"We have taken up the challenge of generating revenue from DD News
so that self sufficiency can be achieved at the end of the third
year," Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma today told journalists on the
sidelines of announcing an initiative to start voice training (for
radio) culture through the Staff Training Institute of AIR.
According to Sarma, the revenue target for the remaining period
of the current financial year, ending 31 March, 2004, is Rs 20 million.
For the year 2004-05, the target would be Rs 200 million and for
the next year the goal is to try mop up Rs 540 million.
"If we manage to stick to this revenue generation target, we'd
make DD News self-sufficient," Sarma said, adding, "We thought why
not try it?"
Now that DD News has to depend on lessened government aid (the
pruned sanctioned amount from the remaining period of this financial
year is Rs 200 million), as part of a revenue generating move, Prasar
Bharati would outsource programming for "at least five hours daily"
on sponsorship basis.
"To attract revenue we are looking at people who can sponsor programmes
(on DD News)," Sarma said.
An added sop is the attractive (read low) rate card at which DD
News would hawk time. The rates being fixed are Rs 30,000 per 30-minute
programming during prime time and Rs 5,000 per 30 minutes for programmes
during non-prime time. The available free commercial time would
be between 210-240 seconds per 30 minutes.
The type of programming that are likely to be outsourced to private
producers include business news and programmes on beauty and health
Though Sarma did not disclose names as "negotiations are still
on," he said that some private producers have already evinced interest
in buying bulk time on DD News.
OLYMPICS ON DD
Sarma also said that DD is negotiating to get the India telecast
rights for the Athens Olympic Games through the Asia Broadcasting
Union (ABU), which is an organsiation made up of a clutch of Asian
broadcasters, including national broadcasters.
The total cost of acquiring telecast rights of the Olympics would
be over Rs 260 million, out of which Rs 110 million has already
been paid by ABU, on behalf of DD, to the International Olympics
"Well, there are certain constraints on getting permissions for
the money need for full coverage of the Olympics. At the moment
ABU is acting on our behalf," Sarma explained.
According to Sarma, DD also negotiated at very short notice the
telecast rights for the Asia Cup hockey tournament that concluded
recently in Malaysia where India emerged the champions.
"Since we negotiated hard, Indians managed to watch the final live
on DD Sports," Sarma said, adding that DD Sports also managed to
sell airtime for the Asia Cup worth Rs 350 million. The telecast
rights cost DD Rs 150 million.
However, because DD had an accumulated outstanding over three years
worth Rs 850 million against the Asia Cup telecast rights holder,
the revenue generated would go towards covering up that deficit.
Reiterating what he had told indiantelevisaion.com earlier in an
interview, Sarma said that for DD Sports a strategy has been drawn
up and that would have to be approved by the board of Prasar Bharati.
This includes hawking time on DD Sports to other sports channels
like ESPN and Star Sports to showcase new programming.