NDTV’s board has proposed to merge with public broadcaster, Doordarshan, to spawn a consolidated and more profitable group called NDDTV (New Delhi Doordarshan TV), given their identical business models – in thier coverage, both tout the establishment line and eschew blowing with the populist wind . Many NDTV stakeholders feel that it is better to merge and reap benefits of consolidation rather than compete in the same market segment.
“Market research indicates that nowadays viewers can’t distinguish between DD and NDTV. Take the recent coverage of the Delhi gang-rape protests. NDTV did a stellar job of airing the government’s preferred narrative of unfolding events, eclipsing even DD. So why not merge and realize synergies,” opined NDTV chairman, Prannoy Roy.
Calls for adopting a more commercial, TRP focused approach to news coverage by some investors were rejected during the board meeting. “Look, we have a certain dignified, ‘holier than thou’ reputation to live up to. Don’t expect our anchors to stoop to the levels of Arnab Goswami or even Rajdeep Sardesai and play to the galleries. No, sir, we bat on the side of the establishment, not on the side of populism,” stated Prannoy, disgust written all over his hirsute face. “And I disagree with the notion that taking a pro-government stand is detrimental to TRPs. If viewers are willing to stop being cynical and willing to buy into the notion that the regime is driven by the purest of motives, then watching our shows can be extremely fulfilling,” he added.
The move has been welcomed by NDTV employees. “Sometimes we feel like Government bureaucrats or party hacks, mouthing scripted lines. Might as well be formally inducted into the system, no?” reasoned a prominent news anchor.
Analysts contend that the merger could usher in the era of lazy journalism just like ‘lazy banking’ during the 70s when banking was nationalized. “Rookie reporters at NDTV can look forward to reduced working hours what with sarkari babus handing them over stories in files, rather than them having to painstakingly unearth leads.”
However, Doordarshan has rejected calls for merging with NDTV. “We may be the official public service broadcaster but even we don’t take as much of a pro-Government line as these folks do,” scoffed Prasar-Bharati CEO, Prof. Amukurajah Das.