Doordarshan will launch its two free-to-air channels — DD News' and DD India — in the United Kingdom.
The national public service broadcaster has given telecast licence to launch two 24-hour channels in the UK to Rayat TV, part of the Rayat Group, having interests in India and the UK in education, travel, retail and media, including a news service.
Sources close to the developments said, "Two new free-to-air channels will be available on the digital satellite platform next month. Both channels would offer 24-hour broadcast from Monday on B-Sky platform."
DD News will feature breaking news as well as business and current affairs while DD India will offer programmes from its network across a range of genres such as children's TV, sports and documentaries.
It has taken 48 years for Doordarshan to reach directly to viewers in the UK since its India launch in 1959. A senior DD official said on the conditions of anonymity, "It is a great achievement since we are getting a platform to showcase our channels. We have the feedback that not only the Indian diaspora but also the locals in UK are keen to know more about India and the events here."
DD has the world's largest terrestrial network with over 1,400 transmitters and broadcasts to over 1.4 billion viewers in India and 150 countries worldwide.
Rayat TV has invested more than £2 million in the project, including the advance revenue share payout to DD and the infrastructure. It has already made an advance payment of Rs 1 crore for revenue share to DD. It has a five-year agreement with DD extendable by another five years for the telecast rights with a first right of refusal.
"Doordarshan will provide the most innovative and rich content and bring the essence of India to Great Britain," said Nirmal Singh, chairman of the Rayat Group. "With the largest library of sub continental programming in the world, we will be able to offer a unique blend of content, which has not been available to viewers in the UK until now."
Doordarshan, has over 1.4 billion viewers worldwide and is launching in the UK as a starting point for expansion into Europe. The two channels will be mainly in Hindi with around 20 per cent English content. It will also offer 30 minutes programmes in Gujarati and Tamil.
The night before the channels go live, Rayat TV will host a gala event that will be televised across Doordarshan's global network to over a billion viewers. Well-known percussionist L Sivamani will present a show which will be attended by senior officials from DD.
According to Rayat TV CEO Khalid Mahmood, "We will have a mix of Indian diaspora and locals to highlight the programmes of DD."