A few days ago, Business Standard reported that Doordarshan Network- the public sector broadcaster which operates more than 20 channels- has witnessed a 16 per cent rise in total viewership in 2019. DD India, the English language news channel of the network alone witnessed 63 per cent jump in viewership in 2018, as per the data from Broadcasting Audience Research Council (BARC). As per the BS report, the highest viewership rise to DD Network channel was among the young audience that is between 2 to 21 years of age.
So what is the reason behind this exponential rise in the viewership of the DD Network channels? A few years ago, DD Network was battling to survive and the private broadcasters were pushing for privatization of the entity, as it was making huge loss, which was being paid by taxpaying citizens. What changed in last few years?
The reporting and news analysis on Corona by the different news channels is the best example to know why more and more people are turning to DD News, from the private channels which are in boxing mode 24*7.
The private channels have ended the space for ‘news’ and ‘informed analysis’, which is the primary task of any media entity. The millennial population, which is turning to DD Network most, is not interested is Arnab’s boxing studio, where there is no space for ‘grey’. Arnab’s Republic TV is just an example, as he was at the forefront of leading this trend. Everything is in black and white on these TV channels, and the studio seems more of a battleground than a newsroom.
In a 9 PM debate show after PM announced Janata curfew, Arnab positioned many people who support PM’s call for a voluntary lockdown on one side, and one or two people unknown faces who do not support the same on the other. After that, Arnab was yelling and screaming throughout the debate on those who do not supported the Janata curfew.
Now ,Republic TV must have struggled hard to find someone who does not support the PM’s call, as almost the entire opposition including the Congress party leaders, even the people on the fringe left and fringe right supported the PM’s call. Even the student leaders like Shehla Rashid, who are known for their hatred against Modi-Shah duo, supported the PM’s call and appealed the people to stay inside home on this Sunday.
Either Republic TV must have paid some unknown faces to oppose PM’s call, so that they could create a non-existent opposition and Arnab could yell at them, and if such people actually exist, they definitely do not deserve a space in the Republiv TV studio.
This show of Arnab is just an example and a single case in point, today, almost all the private news channels focus on debates where there are spokespersons who are ‘expert’ on everything and they yell at the ‘expert’ from the opposite camp.
And this is the reason behind that the young audience, which is perhaps more is ‘informed and opinionated’ than these experts, turns to DD News for more accurate information and analysis. If the young people have to express opinion or supported an agenda like PM’s call for lockdown, they will turn to social media instead of deriving pleasure from the Arnab’s heckling of non-existence opposition.
On the latest Corona episode, DD News is carrying out much better coverage than any private broadcaster. They are focusing more on news and analysis than the unnecessary debate, where the result of half an hour heckling is nothing but stress.
“The latest advisories from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are disseminated down to the networks in different languages to create a mass awareness on the crisis,” said an official from DD Network. “Aside from dedicated news coverage on the outbreak, special phone-in programmes, such as with the director of AIIMS, are being held. These programmes are receiving a huge response from our audience,” added another official.
In addition to that, informative videos on the novel coronavirus and the global pandemic, have been set as default on Free Dish channels and DD’s Youtube channel which has more than 2 million subscribers. “Two special playlists are being created aggregating informational videos and news updates on the outbreak and played on loop on the DD News YouTube channel. This is also to ensure that the information is not lost with the volume of news on the subject,” said an official, as per report by ThePrint.
In the time of crisis, the audience is more interested in information and analysis instead of agenda, debates, and heckling. Even in normal times, an increasing number of millennials prefer news and analysis over debate and propaganda. And this is the reason behind the rising viewership of the DD Network’s channels in the last few years.