Doordarshan's ambitious plan to project Urdu culture and its heritage to the large Indian diaspora hasn't yet "taken off" in terms of viewer's demand.
DD’s Urdu channel was launched with great fanfare on Independence Day, this year. Only a few local cable operators have subscribed to the channel. DD, which has invested Rs 86 crore in the project, is left with no option but to use its clout as a public broadcaster.
The I&B Ministry is, in fact, considering making the channel mandatory for cable operators.
Talking to HT, Doordarshan's deputy DG F. Sheheryar confirmed that a majority of cable operators were not showing the channel. "It will be popular only when it reaches the audience," he said. Currently, the channel is being shown only in some pockets of Okhla and areas like Chandni Chowk.
Beamed through the INSAT-3 transponder, the channel has global footprints, including the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, Central Asia and Africa.
"The only place where we do not have our footprint is the American continent but we plan to get a transponder to reach those areas as well in two to three months," Sheheryar said.
Cable operators voice their grievance. "There is no public demand or TRP rating for the Urdu channel. Why should the government force us to carry an unpopular channel in our network when they are not even giving us any incentive to carry it," said Roop Sharma, president, Cable Operators Federation of India.