Is nostalgia all that is left of Doordarshan after it has enjoyed the pole position as India’s pioneer in TV broadcast for decades?
There appears to be a common perception that the national broadcaster is now well past its prime period and that it is gracefully relegating into the sunset of redundancy, especially in the face of stiff competition from hordes of contemporary private channels.
While this is partly true, a deeper look at the scenario seems to suggest a silver lining for revival of the national broadcaster at least in Ukhrul district. But this would be possible only if the powers-that-be are concerned enough to do the needful.
“We are continuing our duties of relaying programs broadcast by the DDK Imphal so that they reach the public of the district, particularly those in the interiors where communication is poor. But despite this, we are losing viewership here,” says Yuimi Lamlang, a senior technician of the DDK Sub-station (LPTV low power transmission station) at Phungreitang in Ukhrul town.
In Ukhrul, there are many who could relate to their childhood memories associated with the national television and its one-time prime shows and serials like Chitrahaar, Rangoli, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Shaktimaan and others, but it seems there is very little of those who still hold the same kind of interest in Doordarshan programme nowadays.
According to the senior technician, the sub-station is rendering its duty in relaying all regular Doordarshan programme to the public from 5:30 am to 12:30 pm each day except a few breaks during the day.
“But we can’t say if we still have a few viewers. Technically, we assume that there is no more viewership of our relayed DDK programme,” he says.
There could be more than one reason for this declining viewership. “This could be because viewers have only one channel option here on Doordarshan. We only have DD 1 Channel whereas numerous private enterprises are now offering a wide range of programme on different channels. Moreover, nowadays, every household has a DVD player for their viewing purposes,” he explains.
But there is a prospect of reviving the decades-old national broadcaster and upgrading the existing substation is being seen as its missing link. “There is possibility of reviving it. If this LPT substation is upgraded by replacing the existing 500 Watt transmission with a digital transmitter which is capable of operating 15 channels, it could bring back its lost viewership in the district,” Yuimi says responding to a query.
This could prove to be a boon for the poor populace in the district. “Though many private enterprises are offering various channels, majority of people, especially the poor cannot afford the high tariffs. In such scenario, upgrading this substation would be extremely beneficial for the people,” he further observes.
“But we don’t know if the government would be interested in such investment as only Guwahati has this digital transmission facility in the entire North East at present,” he continues.
The DDK sub-centre has come a long way in reaching out to the denizens of the district despite its various shortcomings since its establishment in 1985. It was started with a mere 100 watt low power transmitter and later upgraded to 500 watt in 2006.
As one of the town residents says, he is interested to watch DDK programme but the TV antennas are hard to come by. There might be some other interested viewers but cannot access the DDK broadcasts since all modern TV sets come without the requisite aerial these days.
It is also learnt that back in 2008 the district’s sub-centre, through the district administration, distributed 300 sets of DTH along with TV sets to different villages in remote corners of the district.