Doordarshan shuts the door on bhakti

Government telecaster to keep off spiritual channels.

New Delhi: In a bid to steer clear of any controversy, the Doordarshan has decided to keep away from religious and devotional channels. For quite some time spiritual channels, including that of Baba Ramdev, have been seeking slots in the auctioning of DD Free Dish channel buckets.

The government has decided to maintain a safe distance from these religious and spiritual channels as it would open a flood gate of applicants from other religions, sources said.

Under the current classification there are no separate buckets available for them. As per the existing norms religious and spiritual channels will need to compete with general entertainment channels for a slot on the DD Free Dish platform.

Speaking to this newspaper, Chief Executive Officer Prasar Bharati Shashi Shekhar Vempati said, “We have taken note of several petitions received. I would like to highlight that the eAuction process has not been fully completed yet. The eAuction for MPEG4 slots will be notified for the first time in a couple of days. The reserve price for these at a low invitational amount of merely 5 lakhs. We request all those channels that could not bid for MPEG2 slots to consider bidding for MPEG4 slots.”

The religious channels have claimed that they have a high viewership and a great following amongst the masses. If carried on the DTH platform of the public broadcaster the channels could have helped it corner a large market of viewership.

However, a possible controversy on allowing certain religious channels on the public service broadcaster is understood to have forced Prasar Bharati to avoid creation of a separate religious and spiritual channel bucket for the auction of channel slots.

This despite the fact that the Narendra Modi government had last October — accepted the long pending demand by several gurus and religious leaders — and given a concession to spiritual and religious channels by removing uplinking and downlinking fee for devotional channels in the country.

The Union Information and Broadcasting ministry’s exemption from processing fee for these channels came keeping in mind their petition that they be exempted due to their “contribution to cultural and social cause of the nation”.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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