The agriculture ministry will cut spending on farm-related TV content on Doordarshan’s newly-launched Kisan channel as it feels it is not getting its money’s worth from the programmes aired by the public broadcaster.
Barely two months after the high-profile launch of the Kisan channel, a 24x7 farm TV, the content meant for farmers appears stodgy and expensive to the ministry.
After an internal review, it is even unsure if such programmes are of “interest to the public”. So, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh has decided to cut back funding of farm-based programmes by 44% and wants the content to be better.
According to the ministry, it cannot be spending money if that is not going to deliver results as funds are scarce even for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, a flagship scheme of the Modi government.
In a recent letter addressed to the information and broadcasting secretary Bimal Julka, his counterpart in the agriculture ministry, Siraj Hussain, said content for farmers on Prasar Bharati’s channels, which include the flagship DD and DD Kisan, needed to be more “meaningful”.
He also asked the ministry to gauge farmer response.Under the Prasar Bharati Act, the public broadcaster has a “public service” mandate, especially in the field of agriculture and rural development.
The agriculture ministry’s internal feedback is that the programmes, including the long-running 30-minute Krishi Darshan, or “Farm View”, are largely unattractive.
“Since we have been providing a substantial amount …steps may be taken to make these programmes more meaningful. Feedback may be obtained about the interest of viewers,” Hussain’s letter said.
The women and child development ministry is also sidestepping Doordarshan for content on Swachh Bharat, the sanitation programme, for which it has floated a “request for proposals” from private content producers.
Following the development, the information and broadcasting ministry held a review meeting and is understood to have called for a report.