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Prasar Bharti extends its tentacles

Government-owned broadcaster Doordarshan is set to extend its tentacles across the globe with the launch of DD International. DD International’s objective is to tell India’s story to the world and project India’s soft power. It will also propagate India’s point of view on global and domestic issues. Prasar Bharti has floated a tender for a private consultant to develop a plan to launch an international News Channel.

Doordarshan already has an English news channel DD India which focuses on current affairs and developments across the globe. DD India has targeted the local audience and Indian diaspora. On the contrary, DD International will focus on attracting a global audience. Prasar Bharti intends to create DD International on par with other state-owned International News Channels such as BBC, DW, France 24, etc.

Last week, Prasar Bharti, the parent body of all state-owned broadcasting agencies under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, floated an expression of interest, inviting private players with their comments and suggestions. Once the comments and suggestions are received, an Expression of Interest will be issued to attract bids from private players whose task will be to develop a project report.

Prasar Bharti has been in the process of planning and preparations for more than six months now to launch an International News Channel. It is essential to note India currently has only one private news channel with a global presence which is WION NEWS, owned by Shubhash Chandra’s Essel Group.

DD International will provide 24/7 news service with its bureaus all across the globe. The consultant will be required to submit the strategy and roadmap. Prasar Bharti envisages DD International as the authoritative global media source on India through credible, exhaustive, and accurate global news service and create mindshare for India’s strategic interventions within critical stakeholders across the globe from geopolitics and global economy standpoint and also be talent hub for international media professionals.

The decision to launch an International News Network by the Indian Government comes when the Indian Government is facing flak from the international media, which is a part of their specific narrative to target the Narendra Modi Government and cause harm to the image of the Prime Minister. However, the record against India and its Government is not new. India has been a victim of propaganda campaigns run by media funded by influential people, governments, and their deep states to arm-twist India in the geopolitical arena and also destabilize India from within.

Earlier this year, reports were released by a US-based think tank and V-Den, a Sweden-based institute that downgraded India’s rank in its freedom Index. But it is important to note that these rankings are a part of a biased narrative targeting India and negatively influence the minds of Indian people to make them believe India is an inferior country compared to the western world. Also, a specific narrative and fake news being peddled by International mainstream media for a long time now over terrorists being killed by the Indian Army in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and are projected as victims by highlighting their education and by broadcasting a fancy, romantic and emotional stories of their family and justify terrorism. A narrative is built by publishing pictures of burning pyres of people dying of the Chinese Virus Pandemic and show Indian Government in a bad light internationally when their own countries with world-class medical infrastructure have poorly failed in handling the pandemic causing more deaths due to the virus infections and reporting far more cases than India’s first and second wave combined.

This is the way India is projected abroad, and these examples help us answer why India must have a solid global media presence. The Central Government is expected to invest millions of dollars in this project. For long time experts in media, defense, and people who keep a watch on geopolitical developments have expressed a need to have India’s strong footprint in global media.

DD international will help in countering misinformation and false narrative campaigns through documentaries and projecting India’s soft power and views detrimental to India’s interests. This will also encourage and give confidence to private players in the Indian media industry to expand their presence worldwide. In contrast, this is a welcome step by the Narendra Modi-led government. India must do more counter information warfare aimed against India.

Although it is a welcome step by the Indian Government to expand its media presence globally, telling India’s story, counter-narrative and propaganda has a broad spectrum and cannot be achieved by only having a global news channel. India must have its people from the Indian Diaspora across the globe to be present in think tanks, education institutions, international publications, and other international forums that will aggressively counter false narrative and propaganda, which can be done by setting the facts straight. Goa Chronicle

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