THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART Edge-u-cation Doordarshan in this era of innovation and disruption

Doordarshan in this era of innovation and disruption


Doordarshan recently completed 60 years of its glorious existence. Starting off as an experiment in 1959, Doordarshan can take pride in the fact that it has emerged as one of the leading broadcasters in the world today. For many of us, Doordarshan has been an embodiment of our persona which we related to and grew up with. Iconic shows such as Ramayana, Hum Log, Buniyaad, Surabhi and the likes made our childhood memorable. Today Doordarshan or more commonly known as DD is one of India’s largest broadcasting organization in terms of studio and transmitter infrastructure. It also broadcasts on digital terrestrial transmitters. Doordarshan – literally, a glimpse of all afar- is the face of and a witness to India’s metamorphosis to a global leader in digital communications. Interestingly, the illusory cyber paths that crisscross homes and streets and represent the voice of a billion- plus Indians today, actually began with a modest experiment in public service telecasting on September 15, 1959. The makeshift studio and its players beamed their voice and visuals through a small transmitter, daring to dream of becoming the prime vehicle of development of a nation that had shrugged off its yoke of slavery just over a decade earlier. The experiment became a service in 1965, when Doordarshan began beaming signals to reach television sets in living rooms in and around the country’s capital, New Delhi. By 1972, services were extended to Mumbai and Amritsar and then on, to seven other cities by 1975. All this time, it was part of the national broadcaster, All India Radio. On April 1, 1976, it transited to become a separate Department in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, though still serviced by All India Radio, especially for its news. Since then, the organization has grown to cover the length and breadth of the country, painstakingly caring for the interest of all linguistic, geographical and cultural groups and promoting social, cultural and educational development of the country though an array of transmitter networks equipped with studios and facilities to produce programmes even in regional languages. In doing so,  the country’s prime television service provider has also become the engine for celebration of its diversity and the iteration of its unity. It has been able to do so because it has no single market to pamper – because it is the harbinger of news and information services to every geographical community, all occupational group and each assemble of interests.

Having said so, it is also to be noted that today is the era of innovation and disruption. Manufacturing is continually evolving and a common view amongst practitioners, academics and observers is that the current stage of manufacturing is at a revolutionary phase based on digital technologies linked to the internet. Within manufacturing, business and academia, this revolutionary phase, frequently referred to as ‘Industry 4.0’, has over recent years been the subject of much comment, debate and research. At the kernel of Industry 4.0 are two enabling technologies, the Cyber-Physical System and the Internet of Things. Through mastering these technologies, advocates of Industry 4.0 visualize an interconnected world that can respond efficiently to the needs of the customer via smart factories, creating a virtual replication of the physical system that enables the real time intelligent analysis of large data sets. Industry 4.0  is so named as “the phenomena” is considered to yield a paradigm shift in the use of manufacturing technology to parallel what are considered the first three industrial revolutions that evolved due to mechanization, electricity and automation. Within the factory environment, Industry 4.0 is visualized as a collection of devices, machines, production centres and products that can autonomously communicate with each other, exchange information, invoke actions and control each other independently within what is defined as a Cyber-Physical System (CPS). Externally, Industry 4.0 has the potential to place the factory at the heart of a highly distributed but heterogeneous network of customers, retailers, suppliers and a myriad of other interested stakeholders through high speed internet access and the capability to store enormous quantities of data that is available for subsequent analysis. Through, Industry 4.0, the factory is evolving into what is called a ‘Smart Factory’. This has resulted in the evolution of Artificial Intelligence and the more recently Emotional Intelligence.

The curious thing about disrupted industries is that very often, when we’re living through them, it’s hard to recognize just how monumental the changes truly are. The changes are rapid and the magnitude is enormous, but it’s difficult to assess the scope of the revolution. And that’s what makes it so exciting. The viewership industry has also undergone massive transformation. Television no longer is confined within the four walls of a house. It has taken giant strides is uplifting and upgrading itself and has found an able ally in smartphones, the combination of both has taken the viewership to every nook and corner of the digitized world. The younger generation finds limited interest in televised contents and rarely sticks to the television sets. Not only this, sports and news which accounts for a major percentage of the TRPs is watched in smartphones by a majority of the viewers of television. Cord-cutting is accelerating faster than expected, box office receipts have fallen to three-year lows, studio heads are scrambling, all while streaming platforms are exploding in ubiquity. Netflix, for instance, boasted an impressive 125 million subscribers worldwide as of the end of March 2018. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Prime service is now the third most popular video-streaming service behind Netflix and YouTube.

It is with this inquisitiveness which should be quite pertinent during the brain-storming session in the board meetings of the media houses, more so traditional ones like DD which are a bit orthodox in its own sense that out of box strategies for viewer’s participation must  be ensured upon. Content is king and for an entity like DD, quality content is the need of the hour. It’s impossible to predict with precision the impact of these strategies on the overall survivability, much less surmise how the CEOs of legacy media businesses will adapt to the new era of Internet-enabled TV and film. But there is one prediction we can make with high degree of confidence: In the end, there will be massive winners, and there will be equally massive losers. Huge market share will be gained—and huge market share will lost. We  hope, Doordarshan gains inroads in today’s viewership world with a majority and continue enthralling us as it has been doing over the past six decades. Happy birthday Doordarshan.

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