Finally, there is good news for those awaiting the rejuvenation of Doordarshan and All India Radio. Addressing delegates on day three of Goafest 2014, Union Minister for Information of Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar assured focus on the two iconic State-run brands.
He said, “My mission is to make Doordarshan competitive and very prominent in the media universe. My passion is to make All India Radio, which is really popular and has fantastic content (heard by everybody); there a simple issues like the transmitter batteries getting exhausted.”
“We will make DD a success story. Just today I wrote a note. I will address the Cable industry on their issues only after they comply with carrying DD channels,” said Javadekar, seemingly in jest, but he was visibly serious about it.
On the subject of self-regulation, the newly sworn-in I&B Minister said, “I'm told ASCI has done such beautiful work. There is nothing better than self-discipline. You can’t force by rules and laws. It has to come from within. If industry is doing due diligence, there is nothing better than that.”
He assured the industry that his Ministry would discuss issues with stakeholders before taking any decision that affects them, and informed the forum that he has already started the process.
He touched upon the issue of ad time and underlined that the viewer interest was paramount, and added, “But if you can create good advertising like ‘No Ullu Banaoing’, that is also good entertainment.”
The Minister said issues like those on ratings between advertisers and broadcasters, if any, should be treated as private, unless there is conflict and they sought Government intervention.
Cross Media Ownership
On the issue of cross media ownership, Javadekar ceded that it remains an ongoing debate and presented both sides of the story.
“It is a business. Someone runs a newspaper, a TV channel, a radio station. Like another businessman runs a cement business, a fabric business and some other business. They are doing it. So what is your problem? In media, if it becomes a game of only three or four players, then (we must be concerned) – what happens to press freedom really?” explained the Minister.
‘Who wrote ‘Ab ki baar Modi sarkar?’
Expressing his gratitude to Madison and the agencies behind the BJP’s electoral campaign, he underlined that the media agency got the whole nation mouthing the message. He reflected on how his three-year-old granddaughter now thinks that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name is ‘Modi Sarkar’, and asked, “Who really coined this (line) ‘Ab ki baar Modi sakar’?”
(Also read: Elections are won by karya kartas, not ad campaigns': Piyush Pandey, the man who wrote ‘Ab ki baar Modi sarkar’.)
Recalling a conversation with Modi, he jested that the campaign has made an impact not just on the 2014 elections, but also the 2019 and 2023 elections.
“We have realised that even a good product needs advertising. And this is how advertising can impact. That is the impact you (in advertising) have made. That’s why we want your help in bringing about change,” said the Minister.
On an ad for World Environment Day, which falls on 5 June, he noted that the half-pager presented to him had Modi’s picture next to his, and nothing else. “So I asked them, where is the message? So I wrote ‘Both environment protection and growth are possible’. We also said, ‘Save electricity, Save water’.” Javadekar has been running BJP campaigns in Maharashtra since 1988, he revealed, appreciating the role of ad creators.
Social Media Watchdog?
Responding to a question on there being a perception that one needs to be very careful about saying things critical of the Government or its allies, Javadekar said, “Today the social media platforms are governed by the IT Act, which is a 10-year-old legislation. Today the scenario is different.”
Noting that some do abuse the freedom of expression social media allows, he added, “At the same time, every freedom comes with some responsibility. Lakshman Rekha needs to be preserved. Not by putting them in jail, but by telling them where the Lakshman Rekha is.