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Rediff.com  » Business » A year on, DD Kisan yet to find its feet

A year on, DD Kisan yet to find its feet

June 17, 2016 16:00 IST

Frequent changes in top management and allegations of delayed payment for programmes produced from outside agencies, have contributed in giving a not-so-positive image to the channel.

The image is used for representational purpose only.

Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s ambitious television channel for farmers, DD Kisan, is still looking to get a firm foothold in a clutter of information and knowledge-based stations, a year after its launch.

Billed as a channel providing not only information but a complete package to farmers and those in rural areas, DD Kisan in the past year has clocked an average direct viewership of 500,000 to 10 million, with its highest of around 20 million in March.

Its reach has touched 32.5 million, not a big amount given that India has around 140 million farmer families.

Frequent changes in top management and allegations of delayed payment for programmes produced from outside agencies, have contributed in giving a not-so-positive image to the channel.

However, the channel plans a new set of programmes, more direct interaction and a big outreach initiative to expand its footprint. It claims to have original content of around 10 hours, while the normal average for most channels in its genre is six to seven hours.

“We plan to expand original content to around 12 hours, much of which will be in-house and interactive with active involvement of farmers and rural folk,” Manoj Kumar Patairiya, channel head told Business Standard.

He said the channel plans to hold nationwide conclaves and consultations involving heads of gram panchayats and pradhans to create a buzz around the channel and also display its programming content at village fairs to ensure that more people watch it.

Patairiya, who has been associated with India’s first-ever farmer-centric programme, the iconic Krishi Darshan, since 1981, wants to provide path-breaking content like Surabhi, Satyamev Jayate or Big Boss for farmers.

Live-streaming of the channel is becoming popular while people also watch it on mobile, he said.

However, much of the plans rest on its programming unit and also the content it provides.

As of now, the channel’s original content includes programmes like Hello Kisan (a phone-in programme for growers), Vaad-Samvaad (a debate-based programme on key issues in agriculture), live coverage of current events like the Prime Minister’s visit to Sikkim to declare it an organic state, shared content from various agriculture universities and institutes, and outsourced programmes that largely comprise of dramas set in rural areas.

DD Kisan also shows two movies on the weekends, and films such as Fashion have figured in them. Officials said there is a big debate within the channel on whether to increase the number of movies shown or lower these because it dilutes the message.

“The idea is to attract eye-balls through movies, as there is a view within DD Kisan that just pumping information won’t take the channel anywhere and farmers need a complete package of information as well as entertainment,” an official said.

However, another view is that showing absolute urban-centric movies won’t help it connect with the rural masses as such content is readily available elsewhere.

Going forward, the channel will face more such dilemmas as it struggles to fine-tune and polish content.

Deputy managing editor of IBN-Lokmat, Mandar Phanse, told Business Standard the earlier pattern of agriculture programmes devised by city-based people needs to change and DD Kisan should offer agriculture in a glamourous and trendy manner with more interactive programming.

“From reality programmes to harvest-oriented folk and food culture, it has to have some resonance with urban audiences, and more ‘ruralism’ needs to be represented, long formats, trends, success stories and international agriculture practices need to be included.

Also market reports from mandis, commodities markets and traders needs more focus. Lots can be done from a content point of view. It has to be closely interwoven with existing brands in rural and agriculture sector from fast-moving consumer goods to local stakeholders,” Phanse said.

Pranay Anthwal, head of content and entertainment in communications firm BBH India, said it is a commendable attempt to even think of a purely rural centric 24 hour channel, but the quality of programming needs improvement and shows such as one on Draupadi could be a hit in small mofussil towns.

From an advertisers point of view, Anthwal said once programming improves, viewership will increase and brands would follow.

That apart, outsider said DD Kisan has sometimes glossed over real issues facing farming in India and has not been very open to alternative views.

As it enters its second year of operation, it is issues like these that DD Kisan needs to address and fast to establish its credibility as a true mirror of rural India, not an image the government wants us to believe.

STORY SO FAR

2014 July 10: Budget announcement for DD Kisan

2015 May 26: Kisan channel launched by PM Modi

2016 May 26: Completes a year of operation

The image is used for representational purpose only. Photograph: Reuters

Sanjeeb Mukherjee in New Delhi
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