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‘Who Will Watch It?’ Prasar Bharati CEO Remembers Preliminary Reactions to ‘Ramayan’ Re-Run


Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati is credited with presiding over the most-watched TV display in history– The Ramayan, whose re-run on Doordarshan garnered 250 million perspectives. Curiously, he remembers that his WhatsApp teams rang with laughter when the inside track of the display hit the headlines.

Sharing the reactions, he stated, “They are all, like, giggling. Who is going to observe it?! I needed to inform them that, you realize, India could be very other. It is not simply the English talking elite, it is a lot larger, a lot more numerous. So there was once that concern,” Vempati informed IANS all over a video interview at the backstory of Prasar Bharati’s programming all over the COVID-19 lockdown.

The display was once telecast quickly after Top Minister Narendra Modi ordered the primary lockdown in overdue March. After the re-run started, Doordarshan’s succeed in soared well beyond the highest seven Hindi normal leisure channels. Time spent on Doordarshan moved from 15 mins every week to greater than 70 mins. The re-run on April 16, 2020 by myself logged 77 million audience.

“It was once loopy,” Vempati stated, detailing the nuts and bolts of sourcing the Ramayan from the Ramanand Sagar circle of relatives in Mumbai.

“The tapes had been within the deep archive of the (Ramanand) Sagar circle of relatives, and in Mumbai it was once like running in curfew. Somebody needed to bodily retrieve this stuff. The codecs had modified. Other people needed to paintings in the course of the night time to determine methods to get it right into a suitable structure, after which push it from Bombay. For the reason that document sizes are so huge, you’ll’t do it over the web, it will have taken ceaselessly. So we had a satellite-based mechanism in which the content material was once beamed from Bombay and downloaded into servers right here, in order that day after today’s episodes may well be aired.”

Just about two months on, as India’s lockdown eases, Doordarshan viewership numbers are already reflecting the shift clear of binge-watching spikes.

Vempati is now serious about “reinventing the logo” for India’s formative years whilst staying clear of what he describes because the pitfalls of target audience segmentation and OTT content material this is inconsistent with “circle of relatives values and tradition”.

“Someplace, the calculus of target audience segmentation has misplaced its approach,” Vempati stated, chatting with how households watch totally other content material throughout more than one units all over occasions when they might as a substitute be sharing a commonplace viewing revel in.

“The mix of lockdown and ‘Ramayan’,” he stated, “confirmed us that households can nonetheless come in combination round tv if the content material is healthy and appeals to each phase. Nostalgia was once all the time a pattern for Doordarshan. Whilst we leverage nostalgia, we will be able to’t depend on that by myself”.

For Vempati’s staff, the upside to Doordarshan’s lockdown programming is logo consciousness amongst “a complete technology born into the sector of cable and satellite tv for pc and web”.

Talking with candour concerning the interior workings of public broadcasting, Vempati stated Doordarshan fortunately reveals itself sitting on a pile of clean content material as a result of “bureaucratic procedure takes that lengthy to deliver content material on it”.

“So whilst the remainder of the business is suffering, we have now a big library that has now not been noticed via audiences throughout India which we’re going to roll out in the following few weeks.”

Vempati issues “historical past buffs” to Doordarshan’s YouTube channel. “We have now the oldest TV interviews of Nehru. In truth, his final TV interview which he gave to an American broadcaster, simply weeks prior to he gave up the ghost we have now retrieved the ones, put them on YouTube.”

He stated Top Minister Narendra Modi’s connection with the metaphorical “Lakshman Rekha” when he ordered the primary India lockdown was the tipping level for Prasar Bharati to head all in on mythological content material.

“So probably the most questions that afflicted me once I joined to function a board member and afterward as CEO was once that each one of those iconic serials have immense nostalgia and logo attach however we should not have get admission to to any of this content material,” Vempati stated.

Prasar Bharati took the verdict to re-acquire this content material overdue October 2019 however it took a lockdown announcement to fast-track the closure. Ramayan’s 4 episodes an afternoon structure was once in line with the belief of a 15 day lockdown. Ramayan closed out its re-run in mid-April.

Vempati is pushing laborious for organisational collaboration with academia and startups to create what he calls an “enabling” atmosphere to change into India’s public broadcaster for the virtual age. Prasar Bharati is operating with Indian Institute of Generation, Kanpur, round analysis collaboration on direct-to-mobile broadcasting.

“We have now requested IIT-Kanpur to create that enabling atmosphere, create the test-bed to usher in startups. After which let’s have a look at what we will be able to do on this entire ecosystem. In order that effort is on.”

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