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Doordarshan becomes its own judge

New Delhi, Aug. 26: Doordarshan has begun an exercise to measure its reach and create “viewers’ clubs” to act as sounding boards for its programmes. In effect, Doordarshan is gradually moving away from an industry standard to determine how many viewers its programmes attract and is instead becoming its own judge and jury.

Though major players in the television industry have time and again doubted the efficacy of the TAM data on television ratings — the unit of measuring audience reach that determines advertisement revenue flows to channels — none has so far abandoned the practice of using the information.

Doordarshan sources said they were “conducting qualitative audience research for programme evaluation and positioning”.

The public broadcaster is also strengthening its own audience research units.

Doordarshan’s research advisory committee has concluded that TAM data, collated from “peoplemeters” in 27 cities, does not give a true picture of its reach.

Being the only terrestrial channel, Doordarshan enjoys a viewership that is acknowledged to be larger than the sum total of cable and satellite households.

Officials of Doordarshan believe the public broadcaster has a stronger following in semi-urban and rural areas. “Further, the sample of TAM is too small to be representative in a multi-cultural society like India,” sources said.

Established recently, the research advisory committee has among its members N. Bhaskara Rao (of the Centre for Media Studies), Pramod Kumar, director, Institute of Development Communication, and M.Z. Khan and Vijaylakshmi Bose of the World Health Organisation. It advises Doordarshan on the position of channels and programmes.

This is the third advisory committee set up by Doordarshan in recent weeks after the formation of its marketing advisory committee under Vijay Jindal and a creative advisory committee under Alyque Padamsee.

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