DW's came to India in 1997 when, according to Newel, "there
were hardly any digital decoders in the country". The channel
tied up with any willing cable network, and provided them with Grundig
digital decoders from Germany.
Today, DW has tie-ups with nearly 220 cable networks here and is
available in around 8.7 million households, Newel says.
However, as far as eyeballs are concerned DW has a negligible viewership.
Till date, DW faces major problems due to lack of proper distribution
strategy - it is available in areas like Bihar and the northeast
where even English channels don't do too well.
But, Newel says there has been a re-alignment in the company strategy
now, and the channel is targeting pockets of viewers which consist
of "Germans tourists, IT professionals, intelligentsia and
Says Newel, "We have a single signal across the globe and hence
the commercial prospects of the channel are pretty dim. Nevertheless,
we have some localisation of programming for areas such as Afghanistan
where we telecast two hours of news in the local languages - Pushtu
and Dari." These news capsules are presented by a local news
Newel states that the German government is actively involved in
rebuilding Afghanistan. "We also have a special capsule in
Arabic for the Middle East and north Africa."
Asked whether something similar was on the cards for India, Newel
chose to remain neutral saying, "It all depended on the availability
Even though DW entered India in '97, the link between Indian and
German television dates back to the mid-sixties when a lot of content
from Transtel (now closely associated with DW) was shown on Doordarshan.