The central government is planning to launch an international news channel – DD International – “to build a global presence” and to tell India’s stories to the world. It will be created on the lines of the UK’s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Russia’s RT, and China’s international cable broadcast China Global Television Network (CGTN).
This will be state-owned Doordarshan’s second news broadcast channel.
The move comes at a time when the Indian government has come under attack by international media in terms of handling the COVID crisis. More than 300,000 people have fallen victim to coronavirus since the pandemic began last year in early March. Several top global media houses, including the Guardian, have deemed PM Narendra Modi as responsible for the surge in COVID cases in the country.
According to an Indian Express report, Prasar Bharati, India’s largest public broadcasting agency that has been working on this project over the past few months, has asked private players to come up with detailed plans and ideas to establish a news channel for a global audience.
An Expression of Interest (EoI) that was floated on May 13, states at least five objectives of the international news channel, which are:
- To project India’s point of view globally on contemporary issues of both global and domestic significance.
- To tell the India Story to a global audience.
- Be the authoritative global media source on India through credible, exhaustive, and accurate global news service.
- Create mindshare for India’s strategic interventions within key stakeholders across the globe from a geopolitics and global economy standpoint.
- Be a Talent Hub for Global Media Professionals.
Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati told the Indian Express that the shape and the cost of the news channel have not yet been decided. He also said that the broadcast body will ask the government about funding once they have input. As per Vempati, DD International will only focus on international content for both, the Indian diaspora and global viewers, while DD News will continue with domestic and international stories.
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It is believed that state-owned DD International will counter international media that have been widely covering Indian stories since the BJP came to power in 2014, criticizing the Modi government’s several moves such as the issuance of demonetization, the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The country’s shifting social fabric and the government’s management of India’s ongoing COVID crisis have also been questioned.