Identity and Consumerism on Television in India
Divya C. McMillin
University of Washington, Tacoma
1900 Commerce Street
Tacoma WA 98402-3100
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Paper submitted to the Qualitative Division of the 1999 Annual Convention of the
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, New Orleans, LA,
Identity and Consumerism on Television in India
This paper uses a cultural studies approach to examine the political economy of
state-owned and private television networks in India. The purpose is to
understand the strategies employed by these networks to propagate a certain
identity and to compete with each other for the largest share of
audience-consumers. Interviews with respondents from the networks revealed that
constructions of audience and network identity varied remarkably among networks.
This indicates that in the long term, the availability of region and
language-specific programming could contribute to the construction of
decentralized, subnational viewing communities each with their own definitions
of community identity.
Identity and Consumerism on Television in India
On August 15, 1997, India celebrated 50 years of Independence from British
rule. To mark the historic moment at the symbolic August 14 midnight
parliamentary session, film playback singer Lata Mangeshkar was scheduled to
uncork a bottle of Cadbury Schweppes' Freedom Salvo, a special limited version
of Canada Dry, after singing the nationalistic song, "Saare Jahan Se Achcha"
(India You Are Most Beautiful). The Salvo symbolized the freedom to choose the
champagne of soft drinks, Cadbury Schweppes managers said. However,
parliamentarians said the Salvo symbolized crass consumerism, and desecrated the
freedom moment. In the end, the parliamentarians won, and Mangeshkar sang minus
the Freedom Salvo. The sanctity of the freedom struggle was restored, and the
parliamentarians felt they had protected the nation's inner, spiritual sphere
from the crude materialism of the western Other ("Midnight session not for MNC
The struggle over boundaries is an ancient task of nation building. With the
implementation of the 1991 economic liberalization policy in India's television
industry, the task has assumed prime importance with multinationals
reconfiguring the boundaries of national taste and character. Cadbury
Schweppes' Freedom Salvo is symbolic of the new spaces of identity provided by
the multinationals where Indian consumers, empowered by the availability of
choice in the liberalized market, can articulate their preferences and
identities. This reordering of national space and popular imagination is met
with resistance by government officials and national elites who find their task
of boundary maintenance complicated by the influx of competing definitions of
state, citizen, and national identity.
This paper uses a cultural studies approach to examine the political economy of
television networks in India. The analysis enters the discussion on television
and national identity in India at the historic moment of the nation's 50th year
of independence. Scholarship on national identity focuses on national
boundaries and on the reconfigurations of national and supranational spaces by
transnational media (Morley and Robins 1995; Mattelart 1994; Featherstone 1995).
Through participant observation and interviews at various levels of television
networks in Bangalore, India, this paper shifts the argument about nationalism
and national identity from the global arena to the very local, where
transnational networks such as Star TV and Zee TV, the newly-autonomous national
network Doordarshan, and private regional networks such as Sun TV, Udaya TV, and
AsiaNet in India, compete through localized and region-specific images, for the
The purpose of this study is to understand the strategies employed by the
transnational, national, and regional networks in India, to propagate a certain
identity and to compete with each other for the largest share of
audience-consumers. The following research questions are posed: what strategies
do state-owned national and private transnational and regional television
networks in India use to compete with one another? What identity do these
networks seek for themselves (as evident in the goals and objectives they aspire
to)? How do they define their audience community (in terms of their general
perceptions and of the information obtained through audience research)? These
questions are extremely pertinent to an understanding of the impact of private
television networks, each with their own narratives of community and
consumerism, on the national identity of their audiences.
The study is situated in Bangalore, India. Bangalore is poised to become a
"global city," not just because of its cosmopolitan population of 5 million,
but for its technologically advanced, fast-paced society as well. It is called
the "Silicon Valley of India," due to the location of such multinational
corporations as Motorola, Texas Instruments, Hewlett Packard, and IBM (Aikat &
Singhal, 1993). Sassen (1996) identifies the city as a crucial space for the
analysis of "concrete, localized processes through which globalization exists,"
and says that "the denationalizing of urban space and the formation of new
claims centered in transnational actors and involving contestation, raise the
question - whose city is it?" (p. 206). This is indeed an important question
for Bangalore, which is witnessing not only the rise of multinational
corporations because of the inexpensive and skilled labor available, but also
the cris-crossing of global, national, and regional television programming
reaching most of its residents.
Culture, Power, and National Identity in India
The political economy approach offers a framework for the analysis of the
relationship among media, culture, and power in India. This approach regards
media industries as sites for the intersection of culture and power such that
"culture" as it is defined by those in power, is disseminated to the members of
The political economy approach is, in essence, a revision of the structuralist
view of ideology. Hall (1994) discusses the structuralist approach which
focuses on signification. This approach views meaning not as a practice, but a
social production through language and symbolization. A dominant meaning is
produced through the regular marginalizing and de-legitimizing of alternative
constructions and the regular legitimizing of dominant meaning. Structures of
power are intimately tied to who defines cultural meanings, who selects the
meanings that are dominant, and who sustains these meanings in their dominant
The main criticism of the structuralist paradigm is that it sometimes takes
abstraction to the extreme and thus locks itself into a theoreticism vs.
empiricism debate with the culturalist paradigm of cultural studies. However
while culturalism looks at particularities of practices, structuralism
recognizes the complexity of the unity of a structure. It differs from
culturalism in that it regards unity as constructed through differences rather
than through similarity of practices. Cultural studies scholarship has
increasingly focused on political economy analyses of transnational media
networks to address such crucial issues as the role of the state in controlling
popular imagination (Morley and Robins, 1995; Featherstone, 1995), the power of
the citizen in global and local narratives of consumerism (Mankekar, 1993;
Rajagopal, 1996; McMillin, 1997), and the emergence of local structures of power
as a reaction to the diminishing role of the state in the context of
globalization (Curtin, 1997; Shields and Muppidi, 1996).
In the context of international communication, political economy analyses of
media networks are often deterministic in that they adopt a simplistic and
uncritical revision of dependency theory (A. Mattelart, 1994; Huntington, 1996)
where the United States, primarily, is touted as an ideological giant imposing
consumerist narratives on passive Third World audiences.
Curtin (1997) provides a more critical perspective on transnational media
flows. He points to two issues worthy of note. First, the United States does
maintain its dominant position in global media flows; and second, these media
flows are interpreted as representative of the powerful position of the United
States in the global television arena. The important question then is, who
interprets these media flows as representative of the power of the center? In
India, the interpretations of global media flows by government officials and
national elites receive extensive coverage in the national media. Popular
response to television is largely ignored because, operating again from the
powerful effects paradigm, national elites construct a consensual image of
television audiences and summarize that they are passive, uncritical consumers
of ideologies of nation, gender, and consumerism, as constructed by foreign,
primarily American, television programs. However, efforts to contain the nation
through a centralized agency such as state-owned television, are never quite
accomplished. As Curtin (1997) comments:
In essence, the challenge confronting the modern state is to contain diversity
by promoting a broadly popular narrative of progress -- one that promoted a
sense of collective movement forward through secular, chronological time. The
tensions among and between groups must be submerged in favor of a shared
destiny. Yet such attempts at incorporation are never fully successful. Some
groups not only resist assimilation, they defiantly identify themselves as
separate nations in search of their own territory and government structure (p.
Shields and Muppidi (1996) examine the rise of subnational groups who have
exploited the current liberalized economic climate in India and have established
private, regional television networks to garner niche audiences in various urban
areas of the country through localized, language-specific programming. These
authors write that the availability of alternate programming from private cable
and satellite channels in addition to that of Doordarshan may undermine the
exclusionary national integration project undertaken by Doordarshan according to
the whims of particular political parties in power. They note:
In the old environment, the government had more or less total control over what
was televised in the national space....In India's new 'audiovisual space,' these
strategies may be undercut. The foreign satellites are offering a changed (and
varying) menu of images and prescriptions from which middle class viewers may
draw on in constructing their identity. These images and prescriptions, whether
carried by English or Hindi channels, may sit uncomfortably with Hindu
fundamentalist notions, for example....Further, the proliferation of satellite
channels, particularly regional-language channels, may lead to different notions
of 'nations' and 'national identity' circulating through segments of the middle
class (p. 19).
Shields and Muppidi rightly point to possible contestations of Doordarshan's
centralist constructions of Hindu nation by private cable and satellite channels
and to differing definitions of nation and national identity by the middle class
as a consequence.
In this paper, I advance theory on television and national identity through
actual interviews with respondents at the transnational, national, and regional
networks in Bangalore, at a critical juncture in Indian television history.
While earlier analyses have focused on pre-liberalized television and audiences
(Krishnan and Dighe, 1990; Rajagopal, 1996; Mitra, 1993; Mankekar 1993), or on
policy analyses within the liberalized climate (Shields and Muppidi, 1996), this
paper involves fieldwork at the various levels of television networks and
provides a view into the debate on nationalism, consumerism, and identity in
India during the moment of the nation's 50th year of independence -- a time of
introspection on the impact of British colonialism on the national ethos, and a
time of speculation on the impact of competing hegemonies through television and
marketing networks, on the national identity of audience-consumers.
The analysis focuses on the strategies of state-owned and private
transnational and regional networks to compete with one another; the identity
these networks seek for themselves (as evident in the goals and objectives they
aspire to); and their definitions of audience identity. To adequately address
competing definitions of identity, this analysis includes interviews at the
transnational networks Star TV and Zee TV, the newly autonomous, but still
state-defined Bangalore Doordarshan network, and the private, regional,
Bangalore-based Udaya TV network. The discussion of definitions of network and
audience identity is crucial to our understanding of the impact of these
networks, each with their own narratives of community and consumerism, on the
national identity of audiences in India.
How the Study was Conducted
Fieldwork for this study was conducted in Bangalore in three phases. Finnegan
(1992) writes that background preparation for fieldwork takes three major forms:
theoretical, where the researcher has to be familiar with contending viewpoints
regarding the issues to be studied; ethnographic, where the researcher has to
examine the specific historical and cultural context of the area by studying
unpublished archived documents, published examples, audio and video recordings,
school textbooks and syllabi, manuscripts of other researchers and so on; and,
linguistic, where the researcher has to have a certain degree of linguistic
competence to maximize competency in the field.
Theoretical and ethnographic research began in winter 1995 when I visited
Bangalore and collected literature on the privatization of the communication
industry in the country (See Appendix A for questions that guided archival
research). A second phase of research was conducted in the summer of 1996 and
included extensive textual analysis of programs from the transnational (Star TV
and Zee TV), national (Doordarshan 1 and Doordarshan 2) and private regional
(Sun TV, Udaya TV, and AsiaNet) networks to explore their differences and
similarities, and the techniques of program production used to establish a
station identity and define a viewing community. Policy and program analyses
brought me up to date on the historical, political, and cultural context of the
television environment in India, helped develop a research design, and
stimulated questions for the analysis of the political economy of television in
India, which is undertaken in this study. Linguistic competency was not an
issue in this study since I am a native speaker of Kannada, the regional
language of Bangalore. Most interviews, however, were conducted in English.
The third phase of this study was conducted in the summer or 1997 in Bangalore
and consisted of archival research, participant observation, and in-depth
interviews at the regional stations of the state-owned national network
Doordarshan, the private regional network Udaya TV, the local marketing and
sales offices of the transnational networks, Star TV and Zee TV; and numerous
cable operators and franchisees in the city (See Appendix B for list of
Interviews were similar in format among interviewees. I was prepared with a
short statement of purpose and a letter authenticating my research status and
university affiliation. The research purpose was stated and permission to
conduct the interview was obtained at the beginning of each interview. The
statement of purpose was provided to each interviewee. Questions were fairly
consistent across interviews and covered such areas as the interviewee's job
description, the nature of his or her organization, and finally, the
interviewees perspective on the television environment in India, and on the
audience in Bangalore (See Appendix C for questions that guided interviews).
For all interviews, permission to use the tape recorder was requested. In
instances where the interviewee felt uncomfortable with the tape recorder, I
respectfully agreed not to use it. Instead, permission was requested to take
notes to which these respondents consented. After each interview, each tape was
played back and notes were reviewed to make sure interviewee comments could be
heard clearly. All tapes were transcribed before analysis.
The Money Game
The interviews revealed that despite intense competition for urban audiences
among private television networks, Doordarshan still enjoys monopoly status as
an economy of scale. It now has three national channels, two special interest
channels, nine regional channels, and an international channel. It reaches 86
percent of the population through a network of 750 terrestrial transmitters, and
earns USD 12.3 million annually.
Doordarshan is funded partly by the government (60 percent), and partly through
commercial sponsorship (40 percent). Of total ad revenue, the northern regional
Doordarshan kendras (stations) in Delhi, Lucknow, and Jalandhar network 8
percent of ad revenue. Commercial rates depend on the type of program and the
time in which it is telecast. Program type and time is categorized into Super A
(very popular), A Special (film-based programs or Hindi serials), Special (Hindi
serials), Time A (new programs or popular repeats). Sixty-second spot rates
for Doordarshan-produced serials are Rs. 70,000 (USD 1,750), Rs. 60,000 (USD
1500), Rs. 25,000 (USD 625), and Rs. 15,000 (USD 375) for these program types on
the national network, respectively. Rates are slightly higher for programs on
the metro channels. Advertisers on Doordarshan are those of soaps, toothpastes,
television sets, detergents, textiles, shampoos, corporate services (banking,
legal, etc.), two-wheelers, detergent cakes, and cosmetic oils (Doordarshan,
Udaya TV, Star TV, and Zee TV depend solely on advertising revenue. Figures
for advertising spots on Udaya TV were inaccessible. For Star TV and Zee TV,
advertising rates were based, as in Doordarshan, on program type and time. For
example, 30 second spots on Star TV costs around Rs. 120,000 (USD 3,000).
Star TV's five channels makes advertising on this network more profitable
because the Star TV Plan includes nine spots on DD1, 19 spots on DD2, five spots
on Zee TV, 60 spots on Star TV Plus, and 50 spots on Star TV Movies for a total
of 143 spots. Without the Star TV Plan, an advertiser would obtain only 13 spots
on DD1, 24 on DD2, and seven on Zee TV for a total of 44 spots. Rates for these
spots fall between Rs. 100,000 (USD 2,500) to Rs. 90,000 (USD 2,250) per 10
Zee TV similarly divides its ad rates according to program type and time. Zee
TV offers ten second spots during Special shows on DD1 and DD2 for around Rs.
65,000 - Rs. 135,000 (USD 1,625 - 3,375) and during Super A shows for anywhere
between Rs. 1,05,000 -
Rs. 1,10,000 (USD 2,750 - USD 2,625). Programs on the Zee TV channel cost less
at Rs. 60,000 (USD 1500) and Rs. 75,000 (USD 1,875) for 10 second spots.
The sole dependence on advertising revenue by the private television networks
obviously drive their need for audience ratings. This contributed to differing
definitions of audience and network identity. In brief, personnel at Bangalore
Doordarshan specified that the network's programs were geared toward the rural
audience, while those at Star TV, Zee TV, and to a certain extent Udaya TV, said
their programs were designed for the urban consumer. As did those at Bangalore
Doordarshan, personnel at Udaya TV stressed social objectives of education and
information, while those at Star TV and Zee TV talked candidly about their focus
on consumerism. While interviewees at Bangalore Doordarshan did not feel
competition from the private cable and satellite channels was threatening in the
near future, those at Star TV, Zee TV, and Udaya TV were very conscious of
competition from other networks and discussed various strategies to combat this.
Again, views about nation, audience, competition, and station objectives
differed among respondents in different positions within the network's
Social Vision, Commercial Reality
Ever since the first telecast in 1959, Doordarshan, the national television
network, was promoted as a tool for education and development. Development
rhetoric in the early 1960s was strong in UN and UNESCO conferences and the role
of television for rural development was studied in depth in the country.
Employees high up in Doordarshan's hierarchy echoed this rhetoric. The station
director and the executive producer promoted the network as a bastion of
national culture and development and said the social and cultural role of
Doordarshan as a national network was conveyed through its programming.
Doordarshan provides a three-tiered service: national, regional, and local. The
network's annual report states:
In the national programmes the focus is on the national culture and the
programmes include news, current affairs, science, cultural magazines, serials,
music, dance, drama, and feature films. The regional programmes carried on all
the transmitters in the concerned state also deal with similar programmes at the
state level, but in the language and idiom of that particular region. The local
programmes are area specific and cover local issues featuring local people
(Doordarshan 1996, p. 1). The director and executive producer reflected on the
milestones in Doordarshan's history and noted that despite the aggressive change
to commercial programming with the advent of color television in 1982 and the
emergence of the Indian soap opera soon after, Doordarshan had not lost sight
of its developmental function. Also, Doordarshan's role as a protector of
national culture was not in anyway curbed with the presence of private satellite
networks, they said. These networks were too commercial and vulgar and
although initially successful, would not be accepted by the average Indian
because of their foreign actors, contexts, and themes antithetical to Indian
Although private television networks were far from threatening to Doordarshan,
the director said the network had taken efficient measures to compete with the
private networks. He explained that after economic liberalization, competition
from the 80 - 100 private satellite channels in the country demanded that the
network develop more commercial programming to retain viewership. Thus the metro
DD2 channel was introduced and regional channels were launched in each state --
all of which carried primarily entertainment-oriented channels. From a two-hour
window on the national channel, regional programming jumped to around 13 hours
on each of the 16 regional channels. Reflecting on these changes, he said,
"These are the ways India can not only face the competition, (but) meet the
requirement of the audience to the maximum extent." The conflation of
Doordarshan with India is interpreted here to be a conscious articulation of the
bond between the nation and national television. This reflects the clearly
defined role of Doordarshan as keeper of the nation as articulated by elites in
The director said the concerns of the corporate world did not dictate program
policies. Thus, educational shows were telecast in the late afternoon when
children were home from school, and agricultural programs were telecast around
7:00 p.m. when farmers were back from the fields. He said:
I have a social commitment, and I have to be responsible for the needs of the
people also. So my designing of the program has nothing to do with their (other
television networks) designing. Some put six films a day. I'm not in a rat
race. (If) I do put a film, I put (it) at a convenient time, for example, 9:30
at night. Daily I put a film where people after food they sit like in a second
(movie) show and watch very quietly. And... I will (also) put a film at 12:30
(p.m.). This time is when all ladies, after their household work, they will
quietly sit and watch....You have to find the life, the habit, the lifestyle and
habits (of the audience), and accordingly schedule (the programs).
The director said although films were popular with audiences, the social needs
of the audience assumed higher priority for the network than their entertainment
needs. His description of the audience -- whether farmers or women -- as those
who sit 'quietly' and watch Doordarshan programs, implies an understanding of
the viewer as quiet, passive, and obedient. This allowed him to perpetuate the
patriarchal function of the network as disseminator of educative programs for
the well-being of the nation-family.
While employees high up in the station's hierarchy identified the network as a
keeper of national identity and culture and positioned private networks as the
degenerate and commercial Other as a typical nation building strategy (Morley
and Robins, 1995; Price, 1995; Featherstone 1995), the national objectives of
Doordarshan shifted to a more local level for employees lower in this station's
hierarchy. Both the program executive and the news executive said Doordarshan
had shifted its social objectives to consumerist ones through its increased menu
of films and popular film-based programs.
The program executive said that contrary to the innovations undertaken by the
network, she strived to project the social goals of the network in her selection
and production of local-specific programs. The identity of Bangalore
Doordarshan, she said, was integrally tied to place. The location and
characters in plays and in cultural shows such as dance and music programs were
selected carefully to convey a sense of local place and context. She said:
In our programs -- in the program which we produce in-house, we try to keep a
certain representation for all the regions in Karnataka.... If it's a dance
program, we audition our own (local) artists; if it's a drama program, we
audition our own (local) artists. But when we audition them and when we call
them for a program, we make sure that we are giving enough representation to all
the regions in Karnataka. Now when it comes to locations, we may not always be
able to do that. In the sense it is very difficult to go to Dharwad (on the
outskirts of Karnataka) and do a production over there. The attempt is
definitely there -- to take out our OB van, to place it at the north of
Karnataka at one stage, to go along the coast at some other stage and produce
programs representing people from that area, to go down to the south of
Karnataka, Mysore, and to invite them into our studios.
Programs from the remote stations of Karnataka such as Dharwad and Hubli take
priority over those in Bangalore because such areas, famous for their historical
sites, are rarely represented and any opportunity to receive coverage is
exploited. Through location, accent, dress, dance, and drama style, programs
produced for Bangalore Doordarshan are carefully crafted to convey a sense of
place and boundary. This program executive said production quality was a prime
factor in viewer's decisions. The poor production quality of development
programs and the increase in films and film-based programs she said, resulted in
the loss of audiences for development programs and a consequential shift by
Doordarshan away from the production of such programs. The shift toward audience
ratings rather than audience education and information was felt in the news
department as well. A news executive and news correspondent who reported for
the English, Hindi, and Kannada news said that while earlier the news was
essentially the voice of the government for the propagation of government
policies, the news now included crime reporting (as did Udaya TV) -- a topic
never covered before. Thus crime coverage was included because of similar
coverage in Udaya TV news. Although she considered this an unhealthy trend, the
news executive said competition from Udaya TV news and news on other private
regional channels was a positive influence on Doordarshan news coverage:
The criteria for news before these private channels came up was that (it should
be) totally government oriented. Totally government oriented....We have always
tried to project the government's point of view. But with the private channels
coming up, I think we are trying to look into it both ways. Which is a very
healthy this thing. We are given an opportunity to do reporting the way we
should be doing it. Otherwise it was quite frustrating you know, when we had to
take the government's point of view. But now with the new crop of editors that
we have in Delhi also, the new generation -- I don't know if it is the
generation or the government's stand point that's changing, but we are trying to
open up a lot.
The format of the news served to convey a sense of national identity. The news
executive explained that the structure of news itself directed attention to the
importance of the national over regional (state-wide news), or local
(city-specific news). She said:
We take national first, then regional, then absolutely local. That is, in our
local news -- in our Kannada news that we produce. But the national news is
basically national-oriented. There are very few stories which are region based
unless it is something which is very unique and could be emulated by the rest of
Development news was incorporated in the regional segment, and, unless major
international or local events took precedence, this format was adhered to.
The critical rural viewer
Audience research is an important department in the Doordarshan network.
Audience research focuses on two primary areas: viewer profile and program
popularity. Doordarshan's Audience Research Team (DART) has panels in 33 cities
and covers 20 cities across the country each week to rate DD1 programs in all
these cities, and DD2 programs in nine select ones. Television rating points
(TRP) are assessed by the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) which conducts
audience research in such cities as Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, Bangalore,
Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad and Kanpur. IMRB statistics are sought by various
satellite channels as well.
The audience research officer said the network randomly polled around 600
audience members every week: 300 from Bangalore city, 200 from Tiptur, and 200
from Mysore. Viewer choices were obtained through television diaries, which are
distributed at the beginning and collected at the end of each week. Samples
were weighted for fair representations in gender, age, and occupational
categories. The television diaries provided statistical information on the
channels and programs watched. Viewers logged in the time and type of programs
watched on a given day. The audience research officer said the information from
these diaries was supplemented by occasional field interviews in urban and rural
Respondents at this station identified the rural resident as the target
consumer. The program executive said phone-in interactive programs and
development programs on women's health and on general medical and legal problems
were very popular with rural audiences. The network received a flood of viewer
mail soon after such programs were telecast. She acknowledged the tremendous
shift to films and entertainment as a marketing strategy to garner more
commercial sponsorship, yet perceived her audience as the rural individual who
needed to be empowered by progressive and development narratives.
The news executive also stressed the rural resident as the target viewer. She
said that in general, audiences were critical news-watchers:
From what I have noticed, they are a very aware lot and you can't take them for
granted and say they don't watch Doordarshan anymore. But I have noticed that
people say, on that particular day, Star carried the news this way, and you
carried it this way. So that means they have been switching channels to see how
the story is being treated, not only by us, but by Star TV, and different news
bulletins that come during the day. And that's a very fascinating thing because
I thought it was only we who did it -- switching channels -- seeing how they
have treated this story.
She said audiences often questioned the network on its pro-government stand.
The critical awareness extended to rural audiences as well:
No other (news) bulletin reaches there. We have the farmers who come in from
their work, and the first thing they do is switch on their TV's and at 7 o'clock
they watch the news. We have had responses from them, saying why wasn't this
taken for the news, from our region. What if something has happened in Dharwad.
(For example) there is a writer who has been honored. If he has not been
honored or if he has not been recognized by us, we receive phone calls from the
villages, saying why haven't you taken this. So I -- we know our rural audience
is a very aware audience, so we just cannot take them for granted. We try to --
after taking the national news, we go in for regional news. (We focus on) what
has happened in Bangalore, what has happened in Mangalore. For that we have
different teams that go out everyday. Dharwad, Mysore, Mangalore -- all these
places. And Gulbarga, we have another center which looks after the northern
part of Karnataka. So they go out there and they feed news to us. So these are
the regions. It may be a very small function but we try to lay stress on that
also because it is the audience we are catering to.
The construction of the target audience as the rural community was interesting
because textual analyses of programs -- be they development or
entertainment-oriented -- on Doordarshan reveal a focus on the urban middle
class (Krishnan & Dighe, 1989; Mankekar, 1993). As the program and news
executives indicated, however, the social objectives of the network and its
focus on the rural community was more an ideological strategy than reality.
Udaya TV: An Alternative Space for Kannadigas
Udaya TV was started in June 1994, primarily to provide an alternative Kannada
language channel in Karnataka. The channel uplinks to the Intelsat satellite
from Singapore. The Bangalore office is responsible for generating software and
sending this via videotape to Singapore to be uplinked for transmission.
The vice president of programming of Udaya TV said that various private
channels in the country, such as the Hindi-language Zee TV and the
Tamil-language Sun TV, were popular because they provided language and
region-specific dramas, sitcoms and game shows. The Kannadiga, however, lacked
a Kannada channel and was limited to the standard fare offered by the
government-owned Doordarshan. Thus, to answer the need of the 'common man,' he
said, Udaya TV was launched. He felt he had his finger on the pulse of the
common man because of his status as a Kannada actor who was in the business of
catering to the entertainment needs of Kannadigas.
Respondents at this station said the primary goal of the network was
entertainment. However, the vice president and the general manager stressed
that the network projected a social focus as well, and broadcast shows that
addressed legal, medical, and marital problems of its audiences. The slogan of
the network was "manovasarondige, manoranjanondige, manovikasondige," which
means 'the entertainment and development of the mind.'
The vice-president said Udaya TV allowed Kannada-speaking people all over India
-- whether in Calcutta, Nasik, or Bombay, to tune in to programs in their native
language and watch Karnataka-specific locations and actors talk about the
culture and heritage of the state. The identity and objectives of the network
was expressed in the following exchange:
General manager (GM): if I were a Kannadiga I would like to watch something
which is happening in my mother tongue. I have a different kind of a feeling
for it. But the alternative (before private television ) was that if I have to
watch something in Kannada, I have to go to Doordarshan. Today the situation has
changed; if you want something nice and you still feel you want to watch it in
Kannada, you can watch it on Udaya TV. I think that's where we, we pulled the
Kannadiga population which was watching other channels to watch our channel.
You know, that's where we've made the difference....So I think that's where
we've made the difference. A Kannadiga who was watching other channels, and
watching Doordarshan, we brought...
Vice-president: we have brought them back to our language.
GM: We have brought them back to watch the movie in our own mother tongue
(Emphases in original).
Both vice president and general manager stressed the importance of Udaya TV in
providing a space for Kannadigas all over India to connect through language and
context with their native state and with fellow Kannadigas. Although they
regarded Udaya TV as a cultural space for Kannadigas, they resisted any
political implications and said the primary objective of the channel was
entertainment. They said although audiences might choose Udaya TV for its
language and local identity, the channel would not contribute to anti-national
or pro-regional sentiments. It would only contribute to benign feelings of
pride in the region as part of pride in the larger nation.
The general manager said:
I think TV plays an important role in our lives, (but), I still feel there are
other major factors which can influence you in a direction. A TV program is
light-hearted most of the time. And we are not propagating anything of that
nature (regional identity) on the channel at all. (We don't say) don't watch
this or don't watch that, only watch this -- language as an aspect is handled in
our programs. But it is always the positive aspects of the language. (We say)
learn more of Kannada, or (promote) a kind of a program which (discusses) the
language. We never try to push Kannada, I don't think that's the right attitude
for any channel to do it also. Kannada as a language (we say), look at it, what
are the various factors which have made this language last all this while
(Emphases in original).
The respondents at Udaya TV were keenly aware of the competition from other
private channels. Doordarshan was not considered a competitor because of its
government ownership, reach, terrestrial transmission, and control over the
infrastructure of the private channels. Yet the structure and character of
Udaya TV was articulated in terms of how it differed from Bangalore Doordarshan.
The vice president and general manager said although a viewer could receive
Doordarshan signals just through an antenna, Udaya TV programming required cable
networking to be received on home television sets. However, the advantage they
had over Doordarshan was that Udaya TV lacked the bureaucratic structure of
Doordarshan. Udaya TV was run like a small family concern with no red tape or
underhandedness. Also, they felt they had a better assessment of audience needs
and limited their telecast of holy songs, dance programs, and other cultural
programs in favor of movies, talk shows, and game shows, to cater to audiences'
hunger for entertainment. The respondents monitored the programming schedules
of other channels and brainstormed for about four to five hours every Saturday
afternoon for innovative programming ideas.
Besides Doordarshan, Udaya TV faced stiff competition from its parent company,
Sun TV itself. The respondents said Bangalore had a vast Tamilian population
and the well-produced programs were watched by Tamilians and Kannadigas alike
(many people were multilingual). Thus many programs on Sun TV were imitated to
fit the Karnataka context. However, these shows flopped miserably because
Bangalore's cosmopolitan population made it difficult to target the right
cross-section of viewers. Also, they said, the Kannadiga population was not
ready for the satirization of hierarchies of gender, age, and class as were
those in Tamil Nadu.
The Urban Kannadiga
Respondents at Udaya TV said the network did not have a formal audience
research unit, but obtained feedback from viewers through mail or phone-in
requests (particularly for phone-in interactive shows). The vice president of
programming said that as a retired Kannada film actor he had a good idea of what
the average Kannadiga was looking for by way of entertainment. However, both
vice president and general manager said the network had not yet been able to
draw up an adequate strategy to increase the ratings for Udaya TV programs.
The primary problem, they said, was language. Although they said earlier that
the Kannada language was the strength of the network and differentiated it from
other networks, the version of Kannada used on the network was that which was
spoken in the Bangalore urban district. In the remote regions of Karnataka such
as Bijapur, Mangalore, and Dharwad, dialects of Kannada and other languages such
as Marathi and Tulu, were more common. Also, Bangalore was a cosmopolitan city
consisting of people from all over India, speaking a variety of languages.
Another reason for Udaya TV's slow climb, the respondents said, was the
conservatism of Kannada audiences. For example, several game and variety shows
lifted from Sun TV's programming and adapted to the Karnataka context proved to
be flops. The general manager commented:We took a program like Tic Tic Tic (a
game show) and did it here -- a flamboyant show, we felt. I think when we
looked at it we thought it was a fantastic show. He (the moderator) was
absolutely bold and he had a lot of life when he did that program. But it
bombed very badly with the audience. Karnataka still cannot take any harsh
issue as such. Tamil Nadu can take it. But I still think the people of
Karnataka are very sober. They don't like anything blatantly said. But if you
look at the other channels, or lets take any other Hindi private channel, they
go all out. In fact they have a program called "Flop Hero and Flop Heroine of
the Week." I don't think that will be accepted here in Bangalore. Issues like
this took us sometime to really understand this (the nature of the audience)
Even a hit show, "Adarsha Dampathigalu," a version of the "Newly-wed Game,"
was designed so that, between rounds of questions to participating couples,
elderly male members in the audience and officials from the state government
were requested to come on stage and talk about the benefits of 'open
communication' between husband and wife. The vice president, also the moderator
of that show, said it was difficult to get couples to talk openly about their
marital quirks, and those who were willing, decided against it because they
imagined the audience to consist of parents, grandparents, and traditionalists
of Kannadiga society. Game questions were non-controversial and dealt with the
general knowledge of the participants, their interest in food, clothes, and so
on, rather than the intimate details of their relationship. However, audience
mail showed that viewers had appropriated the show to assess the quality of
their own marital relationships and many reported they began learning about
their partner's likes and dislikes so they would not fall short and lose points
as did some of the couples on television.
Both vice president and general manager said Udaya TV followed a policy of
decency and morality and did not telecast shows unsuitable for family viewers as
Star TV and Zee TV: Links Between Corporations and Consumers
Personnel at the Star TV and Zee TV networks, contrary to those in Bangalore
Doordarshan and Udaya TV, saw their respective networks as links between
corporations and consumers. Star TV's annual report, Vision Into Reality (1996)
India is a model for Star TV's regional businesses. Virtually all decisions are
made and executed from our Mumbai and Delhi offices. Relying extensively on
local management, technical, sales, creative and performing talent, all but five
of our 200 staff are Indian nationals. Re-enforcing that policy, all of our
creative endeavors are spearheaded by our Indian employees, whether in
conjunction with associated or independent producers or with our partner, Zee
TV. This framework enables Star to be sensitive to local traditions and
culture. And most importantly, it permits us to respond to India's demands in
India (p. 16).
The vice president of sales at the Bangalore Star TV office described the
network as a niche English network. The telecast of US programs such as
"Baywatch," "X Files," "Chicago Hope," and "NYPD Blue" gave it an American
character. The Star TV head office in Hong Kong was staffed by several
professionals from the Fox network in the United States and hence several ideas
and concepts in programming from Fox were imported to Star TV, he said.
Star TV catered to specialized audiences, and each of its channels, Star Plus,
Star Movies, Channel [V], Star Sports (now merged with ESPN) and BBC, targeted a
specific audience segment. Although ratings for each channel sometimes fell
into single digits, cumulatively, they often reached as high as 29 percent for
Star TV and 35 percent for Zee TV.
The vice president of sales described Star Plus as a Hindi and English current
affairs channel. He said it aggressively promoted the dubbing of such programs
as "Baywatch" and "Bold and the Beautiful." Its increased focus on current
affairs through such programs as "Newstrack" and "Awaz," its introduction of the
"Hindi Comedy Hour," and of topical talk shows such as the "Priya Tendulkar
Show" and "Maneka's Ark" resulted in the doubling and tripling of its ratings in
The vice president of sales also said Star TV had witnessed a transition in the
urban viewer. When the network first carried MTV, youth in various cities
emulated the clothing and jargon of characters in the music videos and of the
VJs themselves. He said this gradually gave way to:
a surge of Hindi pop culture which had a different language, different style,
different lingo, different dress...MTV provided the platform for a western
orientation, but Channel [V] took over when MTV moved (out). It had its own
brand of identity, which they (urban youth) related to. And for the first time
in our country people started laughing at (them)selves...(it was) a spoof on us.
(This) explains the popularity of Channel [V] because it adapted itself to the
Indian conditions without actually missing out on the funkiness of the western
Star TV's channels, particularly Channel [V], he said, had cashed in on the
global/local hybridity and turned it into a new popular genre of programming.
It took the values and cultural icons of both the United States and India and
presented them in light-hearted combinations with one another. Shashanka Ghosh,
creative director of Channel [V] said:
When we launched Channel [V] in India we had to make sure we did not end up with
a Jekyll and Hyde channel alternating between programming for international
music and programming for Indian music. The difficulty lay in blending the
two...the irreverent, take-it-as-it-comes spirit and youth humor of Channel [V]
with the crucial Indian ethos. The magical thing is that we have actually
managed a style and kind of fusion that India has never seen before and whose
popularity can only be explained by the scale of copies that can be seen on
other channels (cited in "Vision Into Reality," 1996, p. 17).
The senior sales executive of Channel [V]'s Bangalore office said the channel
was in a constant battle for advertising with other private channels because of
its niche focus. A MODE survey conducted in April-June 1996 on 14-30 year-olds
in cable and satellite homes in Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay and Bangalore showed
that Channel [V] was described by the respondents as sexy and stylish (82
percent), international (76 percent), high quality (60 percent), lively (57
percent), entertaining (42 percent) and friendly (38 percent). Channel [V]'s
closest rival is the Hindi pop music channel ATN and not MTV which trails behind
both of them (Channel [V]: The Chosen One! 1997). As the first foreign music
Indianized channel, the senior sales executive said Channel [V] attempted
to:reflect the tastes of urban and progressive youth. Two years ago you were
brought up to be timid -- scared. Only affluent kids were able to be bold.
Suddenly there's life beyond home, tuition. Pubs started springing up. Bon
Jovi, Aerosmith -- (we) didn't have access to these singers. (Now they) teach
you to be funky, to be hep, to have an attitude, how to dress. VJs achieve
celebrity status and receive immense fan mail...It is not declasse to say you
are watching Hindi pop. Now in a disco, people are dancing to Indian music.
Channel [V] really gave youth its identity.
While MTV targets urban youth, Channel [V] aims at music lovers of all ages.
The telecast of Channel [V] in Bangalore pubs allowed collective viewing from
teenagers and young adults alike. Special programs such as "Channel [V] Viewer
Awards" or "Channel [V] Music Awards" attracted sponsors and specific commercial
spot packages were custom-made to suit the sponsor's product and target
As did respondents at Udaya TV, the vice president of Star TV said Doordarshan
was not even considered a force to contend with because of its giant terrestrial
status. Doordarshan's position on the Indian television scenario was relatively
unproblematic for Star TV because the two networks targeted different segments
of consumers. The purchasing power of the target population determined the type
of advertisers who approached the network.
Doordarshan is good for a mass brand where critical volume is very important for
the profitability of the company such as Levers, or for that matter, even for
Proctor and Gamble, or Cadbury's, where you have distribution spanning right
across (various socioeconomic levels). But when it comes to launching new
specialized product categories or high priced product categories, I think the
(private) satellite network is the obvious choice.
The main strategy, he said, was to market global items through local
He said, "we have a global commercial, but (we're) thinking local -- for the
minute twist that will give a local flavor which you can run across various
Respondents described Star TV as a network that straddled the global and the
local, allowing audiences all over the South East Asia region membership through
local idioms. Respondents at this office said social objectives of information
and education were secondary and the business objective of the network was a
primary concern. The network was considering establishing computer training
centers (as had Zee TV) for urban youth, but had not yet done so.
Zee TV, a partner of Star TV, also marketed itself as a link between
corporations and consumers. Its national reach and its Hindi language
programming provided competition for Doordarshan in urban centres. Star TV's
annual report, Vision Into Reality (1996), describes Zee TV as:
India's home grown answer to the advent of satellite channels. While foreign
networks had brought the world outside India's borders into sharper focus, Zee
TV, EL TV and Zee Cinema have turned the cameras on life at home, re-acquainting
viewers with humor, drama and issues of a distinctly Indian nature. Zee TV
programmes consistently dominate the top-ten rated shows each week in cable and
satellite households (p. 19).
Like Star TV, Zee TV had sales offices all over India. Ambience Space Sellers
Limited, a private company, was commissioned to collect advertising for Asia
Today Limited network (50 percent of which is owned by Rupert Murdoch), which
broadcasts the Zee channel.
The regional manager of the Zee TV's Ambience Space Sellers' office in
Bangalore (responsible for generating sponsors from primarily Bangalore and
Hyderabad) again discussed the nature of Zee TV programming in terms of its
difference from Doordarshan. She said advertisers sought Doordarshan because of
its overall reach, but approached Zee TV for niche audiences. Zee TV had
established itself as a leader in cable and satellite homes. Zee TV viewers
could obviously afford cable, and most likely had disposable income to purchase
the luxury items advertised on it. She said the network had a progressive,
urban identity, as opposed to Doordarshan which had a conservative, rural
The Urban, Affluent Consumer
Audiences at Star TV and Zee TV were defined according to their capacity as
consumers. Viewer profiles for Channel [V] indicated that audiences for this
channel were most likely to own durables such as color television sets (80
percent), refrigerators (71 percent), washing machines (28 percent), and music
systems (18 percent). Highest ratings in cable homes remained at around 10-12
points for regular programs and touched 57 points for special events such as
cricket matches and filmfare awards ("Channel [V]: The Chosen One!" 1997).
Zee TV's market report described the network as a 'family channel' with viewers
who are "largely more affluent, more educated than the average television viewer
(with) a higher spending capacity...The Zee viewers enjoy programmes with a
contemporary look and hence they spend a large part of their leisure time
watching infotaining programmes on Zee" (p. 1). This report also stated that
Zee TV's innovative concepts and high quality of program production attracted
and sustained audiences. Zee also played to niche audiences and divided its
advertising and program rates according to gender, age, and socioeconomic
income. Respondents at Star TV and Zee TV echoed the audience descriptions
detailed in the reports and said their audiences were upmarket, wealthy, and
The vice president of sales at Star TV said audiences in Bangalore were ardent
fans of Hindi and regional language movies. This was the main reason for the
success of regional language channels such as Sun TV and Udaya TV. On Star TV,
English serials received mediocre ratings -- ratings that shot up once they were
dubbed. English serials such as "X Files" were well-produced and hence their
dubbed versions were better received than their remakes in Hindi. Also, with
different regional languages segregating audiences all across the country, the
dubbing of movies (particularly Disney films with their universalist themes and
stereotypical portrayal of love and friendship) into regional languages was
To summarize, the interviews revealed that the networks differed remarkably in
their notions of nation, audience, competition, and station identity.
Interestingly, respondents high up in the station's hierarchy at Bangalore
Doordarshan perceived the station to be a bastion of Indian culture and social
development. Those directly involved with news and entertainment, although
echoing these goals, felt the network's focus had shifted from
government-centred, development programming to entertainment-oriented
programming. The format of the news was expanded to include alternate points of
view besides that of the government, and had included crime reporting as well.
In all, Doordarshan respondents felt the network was undertaking massive
innovations to combat competition from private networks, yet competition itself
was not an issue because the network's reach and infrastructure sustained its
firm foothold as a television giant.
Despite the scramble for product differentiation, Doordarshan personnel were
not too alarmed at competition from private cable and satellite television.
With over 800 transmitters all across the country, the reach of Doordarshan
exceeded 85 percent of the country. The perspective therefore was national
rather than local, in that innovations were made on a national scale and
progress of the network as a whole was viewed in terms of national ratings. The
battle for the local Bangalore urban viewer was not considered a top priority.
The programming menu of Bangalore Doordarshan was not chosen in response to
competing menus from other networks but to fulfill the social objectives of the
On the other hand, Udaya TV was constructed as a primarily entertainment
channel, which served as an alternative to Doordarshan for Kannadigas. The
network was still struggling because of difficulties in assessing the nature of
the audience. The network saw itself as clearly different from Doordarshan in
its lack of bureaucracy and in its menu of entertainment programs instead of the
overload of 'we-know-what's-good-for-you' programming on Doordarshan. Although
the respondents here said the network in no way propagated regional identity as
a political narrative against national identity, their programming ideas (apart
from the hefty menu of film-based programs) and their description of the nature
of the network and its programming itself highlighted their efforts at
establishing an alternate space for Kannadigas. Their efforts at depoliticizing
this space is interpreted as an effort to avoid controversy. Yet this effort
itself points to the construction of sub-national viewing communities defined by
language -- a construction worthy of note in our understanding of whether
private television channels can lead to the fragmentation of the nation.
While Udaya TV's audience was perceived to be Kannada-speaking, conservative,
and of middle and lower income, those for Star TV and Zee TV were considered to
be upscale, wealthy, and with disposable income. All networks relied on market
research surveys to provide viewer profiles to supplement commercial packages
for corporate sponsors. Only Doordarshan, however, had an in-house Audience
Research Unit and framed such research in terms of efforts to better understand
the educational, informational, social, and cultural needs of the audience.
Udaya TV echoed this sentiment to a certain extent, but given its sole reliance
on advertising, limited its risks of in-house production failures and increased
its menu of films to sustain its following and thus its ad revenue. Star TV and
Zee TV were candid in their construction of their viewers as consumers and
discussed audiences' lifestyles and attitudes only in terms of their translation
into critical purchasing behavior.
The down market image of Doordarshan and Udaya TV is important to note. The
similarity in their approaches to audiences may, at one level, be attributed to
the fact that both are indigenous channels -- one national, with programming
originating from the nation's capital, New Delhi; and the other regional, with
programming originating from the state capital, Bangalore. Respondents at both
networks had social interests of the viewer in mind, and despite their focus on
this, conceded to commercialization for advertising revenue -- substantial in
the case of Doordarshan, and completely in the case of Udaya TV.
But more important, both were constructed as middle and lower middle class
networks by their own employees because of their crucial links to
nation-building. Mankekar (1993) writes that nationalism is a middle class
phenomenon, and the relationship between 'middle classes' and nationalism is a
fundamental one. The key observation that nationalism is a middle class
phenomenon has been made by Chatterjee (1993), Rajagopal (1995), and Shields and
Muppidi (1996) as well. This observation finds resonance in this study in that
the objectives of indigenous networks, as articulated by their respective
employees, was the social development of audiences.
Doordarshan and Udaya TV were operating within the narratives of nation as
propagated in political rhetoric, film discourse, and middle class family life.
Respondents at these stations felt it their duty to educate and entertain masses
in the rural areas (in the case of Doordarshan) and urban areas (in the case of
Udaya TV). Respondents at Star TV and Zee TV, however, although Indians, were
executing marketing directives from a foreign center whose primary concern was
to provide non-controversial and entertaining fare to attract the maximum number
of viewers and sponsors.
The differing perceptions of network identity and audience community lead to
the broader question: can the presence of multiple television networks in India
result in fragmented viewing communities and thus to the eventual fragmentation
of the nation? Although Doordarshan retains its monopoly over audiences at
present due to its reach and infrastructure, in the long run, could private
regional channels in each state draw away audiences from the national network
through slickly produced, regional language-specific programming? These
questions are pertinent particularly in the context of political unrest in the
country. Also, these questions are important because of the political interests
of the owners of some of the private regional networks.
While it is obvious that a time study is necessary to understand the
implications of these networks on national identity, we must avoid the trap of
television-determinism where we assume that competing definitions of network,
nation, and audience necessarily result in fragmented communities each with a
differing sense of nation and self. We may address these questions by beginning
with an understanding of where nation, region, and community are constructed.
We need to understand the resonance of these definitions within audiences to
adequately understand the impact of television in India on audiences'
perceptions of national identity. The author undertakes such an analysis in
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Channel [V]: The Chosen One! (1997). Office report.
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Cable and Satellite Penetration in TV homes
City HH (000) Percentage
Bangalore 350 43
Delhi 581 31
Madras 288 27
Bombay 1349 50
Calcutta 329 20
Hyderabad 173 21
Total percentage of TV homes in the country: 45%
Total percentage of C&S homes in the country: 1-2%
Source: Doordarshan Audience Research Unit (1996). New Delhi: Nutech
Cable and Satellite Channels in India
Pas 4 Express 6 Rimsat G1 Rimsat G2 Shiva 1 Asiasat 2
ESPN BiTV News Sun TV (Tamil) ATN ATN Movies Star Plus
MTV BiTV Ent. Raj TV (Tamil) JJTV ATN Ent. Prime Sports
Liberty-TCI BiTV Films, Asianet (Malayalam) Eagle TV ATN Current Channel [V]
RPG (3) Music, and Sports Gemini TV (Telugu) Udaya TV (Kannada) Affairs BBC
CNBC Money TV (Hindi & Zee TV
Likely: English) ELTV/Movie
Disney (2) Zee Regional
Sony Columbia Zed (Zee
Time Warner Education)
Apstar 1 Insat 1D Insat 2A Insat 2B Insat 2C
CNN Int. DD1 DD13 DD2 to DD12 DOORDARSHAN (digital
TNT & Cartoon DD16 DD14 DDMovie Channel compression)
TVBI (Hong Kong)
Discovery, Disney, MTV
Source: Agarwal, A. (1995, February). A galaxy of choices. India Today, pp.
Questions for Library and Archival Research
Description of Networks
1. When was the station established?
2. Where was it established?
3. What is its organizational structure?
4. What are the responsibilities of each department?
5. What are the names of personnel/managers in each department?
6. What is the reach/average share of programming?
7. How are the stations financed?
8. What is the pattern of production and distribution?
Legal Context of Networks.
a. What are the Cable and Television ordinances that pertain to television and
cable in India?
b. What freedoms/responsibilities/code of ethics are each station expected to
c. How is programming and production of private cable channels (STARTV and
regional TV) limited by the government (licence fees, censorship etc)?
Audience Research Officer
Audience Research Executives
Senior sales executive (Channel [V])
Regional sales manager
Managers, SitiCable, UBN, and InCable; cable operators and franchisees
*Only the titles of interviewees are provided to protect their privacy.
Questions for Observation and Interviews at the Television Stations/Offices
1. What is the respondent's position/title?
2. What is the respondent's perspective on the television environment in
1. What does the respondent think of global/national/regional programming?
2. What does the respondent see the network doing to counter
3. Is competition a threat at all to the respective network?
1. How are decisions made about what programs to include every month?
2. How are programming menus drawn up?
3. How are programming locations selected?
4. How are actors/actresses selected?
1. How is station identity enforced?
2. What are the goals/motto of the network?
3. Does the respondent think the network is accomplishing this goal?
1. What community of viewers is the network trying to reach? Why?
2. What is the nature of the network's audience research?
 Independence for both Pakistan and India was declared at midnight, August
15, 1947. Pakistan celebrates independence day on August 14, and India does on
 Dependency theory, as developed by Frank (1984) states that the flow of
information, goods and services between developed countries in the center and
developing countries in the periphery is conducted by political and economic
elites such that the developing countries on the periphery are maintained in
their positions of dependence.
 The terms transnational, national, and local pertain not so much to the
reach of the networks, but the identity each network strives for itself. This
is because Doordarshan, like Star TV and Zee TV, may be received in various
countries in Asia, and Udaya TV can be received across the country.
 At the time of this writing, the exchange rate was USD 1 = Rs. 40.
Star TV's vice president of sales in Bangalore said that fees were most often
paid in US dollars because the dollar's value was steadier than that of the
 These studies resulted in the Chanda Committee report in 1966 to examine
the development potential and profitability of radio and television in the
country; the SITE project in 1975 to educate people in rural areas on
agriculture, health, and sanitation, and to provide supplementary lessons for
primary school students; the launching of the ETV (Educational Television)
channel as part of the SITE Continuity project; and the broadcast of the
countrywide classroom in 1984 through a collaboration between the University
Grants Commission and the Indian Space Research Organization (Chatterji, 1991).
 With the Asiad Games in 1982, color television was introduced, making
coverage of the games the biggest national and international project of
Doordarshan and the most widely watched series (Doordarshan 1996). The Asiad
also shifted focus from educational programs to sports and entertainment.
Several other genres such as information-based talk shows, quiz programs,
entertainment-education programs for children, film song and sports programs
emerged in the mid-1980s (Mitra 1993). Telenovela-inspired "Hum Log" (We
People), consisting of 156 episodes, ran for 17 months in 1984-85 and tripled
Doordarshan's advertising revenue (Singhal and Rogers, 1988). Realizing the
potential for serialized drama, various serials emerged in the latter half of
the 1980s. The differentiation of television programming in the mid-1980s is
attributed to increased commercial sponsorship for entertainment-oriented
programming, availability of a variety of products on the Indian market due to
attempts at economic liberalization, and to increasing product awareness and
purchasing power of middle class consumers (Mankekar 1993).
 The establishment of Star TV in 1991 in Hong Kong by Li Ka-Shing of
Hutchison Whampoa and his son Richard Li, owner of the Pacific Central Group,
coincided with India's June 1991 economic liberalization policy. Realizing the
potential of the Indian market in the liberalized environment, Rupert Murdoch
purchased 64 percent of Star TV, which uplinks to ASIA SAT-1, and entered the
Indian communications arena in 1993. Murdoch bought the remaining 36 percent of
Star TV in July 1994 ("Murdoch buys balance," 1994). In keeping with its policy
of encouraging open investment and liberalized trade, the Indian government did
not curb the flow of Star TV channels such as MTV, Prime Time Sports, and BBC
World Service into India (Shields and Muppidi, 1996). Li-Ka Shing and Richard
Li sold the Hindi channel Zee TV for USD 5 million to Bombay industrialist
Subhash Chandra in 1992. Murdoch became Chandra's partner in 1993 and acquired
50 percent of Asia Today Limited (ATL) which runs Zee TV. Zee TV channels are
Zee TV, EL, Zee TV Cinema, and Music Asia. The network provides an exhaustive
menu of Hindi films and film songs to Asian audiences (Pathania, 1995). Star TV
split its beam in 1994 into a northern one which catered to China, and a
southern one specifically for the South Asia region. MTV left Star TV in 1994
and Star TV introduced Channel [V] which took on MTVs trademark programs such as
the hour-long Hindi top-ten film-video countdown called "Oye MTV" (now called
BPL Oye) and offers competition to MTV which re-entered the television scene in
1994, this time on the Doordarshan platform. Star TV and Zee TV's success as
business networks was recognized by politicians and entrepreneurs in various
states in India. By 1993, private television production centres were
established in various state capitals. Thus SUN TV was established in 1993 in
Madras, Raj TV in Andhra Pradesh, and AsiaNet in Trivandrum. Prevented from
uplinking to government satellites, these networks uplink to RIMSAT
(Doordarshan, 1995), and provide a wide variety of programming in regional
languages, from Indian films and variety shows for entertainment, to serials and
documentaries for education and development (See Table 1 for cable and satellite
penetration in India). The most successful and notable of the private regional
networks is Sun TV, a Madras-based network, which is controlled by Kalanidhi
Maran, the nephew of Industry Minister Murasoli Maran and grandson of the family
of Dravida Munetra Kazhagam (DMK) political party chief, Muthuvel Karunanidhi
(Paneerselvan, 1997). Kalanidhi entered an arrangement with Singapore Cable
Vision for 24-hour transmission and launched Udaya TV in Bangalore in 1994 under
the leadership of his uncle Murasoli Selvan.
 Kalanidhi, the owner of SUN TV in Madras, entered an arrangement with
Singapore Cable Vision for 24-hour transmission and launched Udaya TV in
Bangalore in 1994 under the leadership of his uncle Murasoli Selvan.
 Although the word mana translates directly into 'mind,' in the Indian
context it implies mind, body, and spirit, that is, the whole being of the
 The vice president said he was aware of the American version much after
"Adarsha Dampathigalu" had been conceptualized and produced.