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An Indian making the most of life in sports-crazed Melbourne

Far Pavilions

Ad, sound and vision-free TV

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sometime back Rahul Bhatia, in an article in Cricinfo wrote of his frustrations in watching a viewer-unfriendly cricket telecast through Doordarshan. While watching cricket on Doordarshan is possibly an angst filled experience, in recent times, watching the performance of the Indian team on the field has been even more depressing. Either way, pleasing its viewers may continue to be an elusive dream for Doordarshan.

However, there is now a proven technique for Doordarshan to improve its viewership ratings. It only needs to take a leaf out of the books of Channel 7, an Australian TV channel.

Last Wednesday, a power failure at their broadcast centre forced Channel 7 to show a blank screen for 48 minutes during prime time (9pm onwards). In spite of telecasting nothing, the channel had at least 88,000 fans glued to the screen seeing the "ad, sound and vision-free offering". This even helped them beat the viewership ratings on SBS, another national channel. Using Dibertian logic, the blank screen is evidently an improvement over the regular programs.

Now, this technique has even been borrowed effectively by Kiruba on his blog. I do like Kiruba's posts that cover a wide range of entertaining and unlikely topics. Today, I visited his site to look for new posts -- only to be greeted by a completely blank white screen. And I have gone to his blog four times since then to see the blank screen. If ardent readers of his blog have been doing likewise, it might turn out that Kiruba's site meter shows the highest ever hit rate he has had!


If I am right, it was not Doordarshan which was producing the live pictures of the match. With Doordarshan's limited skill set (because that is what they get for what they pay) they had to do the most. Doordarshan's majority viewers are not really asking for more. It is only the viewers who have tasted the better quality of ESPN-Star or SONY paying a hefty amount, will crib.

You remember we all watched Krishi darshan and UGC telecast of a unheard of topics when we got home a new B/W TV? I am sure there are at least 88,000 new TV's
in India every week whose viewers are glued to TVs showing the familiar rainbow colour and waiting for doordarshan's logo to emerge and Krishi darshan to begin.
Rahul Bhatia may not be all that correct comparing Doordarshan to a professionally managed private sport channel.

I certainly remember the days when Krishi Darshan was probably the most well-known program going around. It possibly served its target viewership well and if the program still exists, it may still be doing so. However, it would be unfair to belittle the wants of its viewers -- urban or rural -- by assuming that they are happy to view commercial breaks during crucial moments of the match.
That said, I would have been happy to have seen the matches telecast on Doordarshan, warts, ads and all, considering that I could not see any part of the series here.
"they are happy to view commercial breaks during crucial moments of the match. "

If I am correct, this was because there were 2 different parties, one producing & telecasting (for outside India) and the other (Doordarshan) taking the feed from the former and only telecasting for Indian viewers.

Also, Doordarshan's programmers were dogging the ads aired by the producer which they did not want to telecast for Indian viewers. In the bargain Indian viewers lost some crucial.

Doordarshan is not the only one to be blamed. Its BCCI, I&B ministry also to be blamed for this last minute mess.

Watching a blank screen is no differen from watching any programme on DD.
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