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DD News on revamp mode, considers changing bilingual tag

MUMBAI: After painting a bad picture of itself through a series of unfortunate incidents, DD News is on the way to refresh and rebrand itself, this time putting a lot of focus on human resource and recruitment.

Moreover, it is currently being discussed at higher levels if the bilingual channel should be split into two independent news channels, a Hindi news channel and the other in English.

Akshay RoutUnder the leadership of DD News director general Akshay Rout, who took charge three weeks ago, the channel is going all out to improve and has decided on a complete overhaul.

“Very soon, there will be a complete change in the look and feel of DD News. The challenge is to reduce technical and production glitches and any other errors that affect viewing. There is a collective pursuit to make it the preferred news channel of the masses,” Rout told TelevisionPost.com.

Small changes have already taken place such as the introduction of graphic headlines. More innovative programmes providing not only news but analyses have also been planned.

Rout and his team are reviewing the FPC, and going forward, there will be some more engaging programmes. Besides, the broadcaster will integrate its regional news bureaus for better news access.

“Being a national TV channel, the potential and footprint of DD News is enormous. We understand more than ever before the responsibility towards the viewer. We are relooking at most areas of our work and FPC,” he added.

A lot of emphasis is also being laid on the quality of human resource, level of technology and Prasar Bharati’s editorial policy.

Increasing internal alertness, being fast, quick and watchable, and having a public service responsibility are the cornerstones of the overhaul mission.

And the good thing is full encouragement is pouring in from the top echelons of Prasar Bharati and the government, he added. “The effort is to emerge as a professional news channel. Strong efforts will be made to be competitive, but we will stay rooted.”

Talking of ideology, which in the case of DD News is ‘quality television’, the revamp project will entail a lot of hard work considering that the news space is vastly competitive. But in the wake of the recent spate of gaffes, Rout will take no chance with respect to who comes into the DD News fold.

The performance of all the staff members will be reviewed by an internal team, whereupon it will be decided who should and should not be a part of the team following rebranding. Rout is looking for both quality and quantity.

“HR is very important and only merit will determine who will be a part of the DD news team. Performance is being given a very high importance. The continuous orientation of the current staff to the new demands and the induction of new talent are two parts of the same policy to have more professionalism,” he stressed.

As the country’s only bilingual news channel, DD News will look at all segments of audience and is thus working to enhance its presence on social media.

“We know that we have to bend our back a little bit more and make sure that the competence that DD News traditionally has is fully utilised. And if there are some problems here and there we will sort it out,” Rout said, his voice brimming with confidence about the future.

While continuous upgrading is what matters the most now, there are also talks of splitting DD News into two independent news channels—one in Hindi and one in English. This is indeed justified because the channel’s bilingual status often comes in the way of its finding a dedicated viewership. However, the matter is currently at the level of discussion, and it will take some time before the move is given a go-ahead by the Prasar Bharati high-ups.

“The realisation is that a bilingual news channel is a very difficult and complex task, because the segregation of audience is important. The viewer tunes in to watch a particular channel in a particular language. There is a strong argument for having independent channels in both languages to make it more feasible,” Rout revealed.

However, the task does not seem to be an easy one. As Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar had also told TelevisionPost.com, there is no consensus among the officials on the argument if pure English-language audiences ever watch DD channels owing to its bilingual format or if Hindi-speaking people feel put off upon seeing English news.

“We had broached the issue of splitting the channel about two years back. Now the new DG has raised the issue again, but can we have our hands totally full? There is a need, but we also need people in position and a little funding before we can do this. We are open to the split, but streamlining is what is needed first,” Sircar had stated.

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