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The information and broadcasting ministry has decided to separate the creative and administrative functions of public broadcaster Doordarshan to bring in professionalism in its content operations, enable it to compete with private satellite channels and turn around the steep decline in its viewership.

Union I&B minister Prakash Javadekar announced on Thursday that separation of functions would be undertaken as all channels had a unique character. Officials aware of developments said the proposal would be placed for clearance before the Prasar Bharati Board, of which Doordarshan is the broadcast arm.

Shashi Shekhar Vempanti, CEO of Prasar Bharati, said, “To bring in professionalism into the content operations of Doordarshan and to ensure public service broadcasting is engaging and strikes a chord with the youth, it is essential to separate the content and creative functions from the administrative functions. This issue was deliberated by the Prasar Bharati Board in the past and is also part of the scope of the ongoing manpower audit.”

A dip in viewership of Doordarshan, which has separate channels for news and general entertainment, is the reason behind the decision.

According to data collated by Prasar Bharati, a viewership chart of DD News shows that the channel had impressions of 14-16 million in 2017, which fell to 10-12 million in 2018 and to 7-7.5 million in 2019.

The move to separate the functions comes at a time when the public broadcaster has engaged Ernst and Young to conduct a manpower audit to right-size both Doordarshan and All India Radio.

“This (separation of roles) is different from previous attempts since the roles are now defined and structured in such a way that it will be pave the way for the future composition of DD and AIR,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

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