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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why do we look for monies in public service content & its dissemination? - Mukesh Sharma



It was the year 1947 when India had got freedom from the British rule. Everyone wanted to contribute in Nation building. Cinema and moving images in India were still in the nascent stage. Except for All India Radio which started Broadcast sometime in the mid-twenties, there was no other official channel to bring to people the development schemes of the govt. in order to inform & educate them. So an urgent need to set up a Film /TV body arose in order to help in Nation Building.
Thus in the year 1948 Films Division of India came into being to channelize the energy of a just born Nation. For nearly seven decades Films Division has without break been continuously striving to keep a record of the social, political & cultural fabric and realities of the country by way of Moving Images called Documentary Films. Today the Archive of Films Division boasts of more than 8000 titles on Documentaries, Short and Animation films.

The outreach of Films produced by Films Division is through TV, theater, educational institutions and social organizations. Films are also offered on sale to lovers of documentary cinema, public, private institutions and foreign buyers at a very nominal cost.

National Museum of Indian Cinema

The Museum of Moving Images built at the cost of Rs 150 crore, will be one of its kind, in the entire South Asia region, once it is opened. The digital and virtual technology with holographic techniques is blended well to give life and movement to the museum.

The Museum takes the visitors through an absorbing journey, of a century of Indian Cinema in a story telling mode with the help of visuals, graphics, film clippings, publicity material, artifacts, interactive exhibits and multimedia among other things. Here one can enjoy the fascinating History of Indian cinema. The exposition is divided into 9 sections viz. The origin of Cinema, Cinema comes to India, Indian silent films, the advent of sound, the studio era, the impact of WW II & creative resonance, new wave & beyond and regional cinema.

Doordarshan.

Doordarshan had a modest beginning with an experimental telecast starting in Delhi on 15 September 1959, with a small transmitter and a makeshift studio.
Doordarshan began a five-minute news bulletin in 1965. Pratima Puri was the first newsreader. 
The television service was extended to Bombay (now Mumbai) and Amritsar in 1972 to fill in the entertainment Quotient. Up until 1975, only seven Indian cities had a television service and Doordarshan remained the sole provider of television in India. Television services were separated from radio on 1 April 1976. Finally, in 1982, Doordarshan as a National Broadcaster came into existence. 
And then there was no looking back. Kendra's & TV towers adorn the skyline of major capital stations, of various states in the country. By the end of late eighties Doordarshan’s monopoly was complete. Now more than 90 percent of the Indian population can receive Doordarshan (DD National) programs through a network of more than 1416 terrestrial transmitters. There are about 67 Doordarshan studios producing TV programs today.

Role of Films Division & Doordarshan

Are DD and FD relevant in the present scenario when the media landscape has completely changed?
The answer is an emphatic yes! Yes, there is need for both the organization to exist and continue to cater to the public service mandate for which they were born. In fact, the need is more today. With relentless onslaught of Commercial broadcasting from over 900 plus channels were the hunger is TRPs, bottom lines and eye balls the quality of content production has gone for a toss. In absence of any broadcast laws it’s a “free for all”. The Indian Broadcasting Forum (IBF), which is the supreme body of broadcasters believes in self-censorship which is hardly implemented by any commercial channel, as they are answerable to its shareholders to ensure profits.
To Inform, Educate & Entertain The goal of public service broadcasting is to make needed information available at the doorsteps of every viewer. It should be wide ranging in its appeal, reliable, entertaining, instructive and informative serving only one master i.e. the public. It strives to engage all communities through thought provoking broadcast programs and outreach projects. It channelizes the information and ideas that improve communities socially, culturally and economically. The goal of public service broadcasting is to meet community’s needs which exist beyond traditional, geographic and institutional boundaries. Public service broadcasting, through All India Radio and Doordarshan networks, provides maximum coverage of the population and one of the largest terrestrial networks in the world. In a country like India where illiteracy rate is high, this medium has a great potential to inform, to educate and to entertain the people. The immense social responsibility of public service broadcasting is consonant with the potentiality of the network as it reaches vast masses of the people through the country. Over the years, AIR, Doordarshan and Films Division true to their role as public broadcasters, have been engaged in multi-faceted activities. With the move into digital age public service broadcasting is in the forefront of using new technology to provide better service and programs to an even wider and more diverse community.

But then the central question, how are Public Service channels worldwide, surviving? What business model do they follow?

The answer is, secure funding. Unless and until the monies are earmarked for Public Service broadcasting either from the people, or the parliament, or through a dedicated budget from the Government of the day, Public Service Broadcasting will not survive. BBC (UK), Deutsche Welle TV (Germany), NHK (Japan) are some of the pub casters who are surviving on public funding. Death of PSB would mean death of democracy.
Similarly, AIR, DD & FD will need Government support in order to continue to serve people. Good documentaries, education features, health programs, socially relevant content needs hand-holding. When a nation invests in health, education and social sector for its people, it does not expect to make profits out of such commitments. Then why look for monies in Public Service Content and its dissemination?

Source :  Mukesh Sharma

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