Even though the national broadcaster, Doordarshan News, was under attack from numerous quarters including opposition parties for telecasting live Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s Dussehra speech (October 3), it seems the channel had the last laugh with it recording a “huge jump of nearly 40 lakhs in its weekly viewership” compared to previous week and past several months.
“The viewership in the week which had Bhagwat’s speech was one of the highest in the past several months. It was probably second only to the high viewership ratings achieved earlier this year at the time of Lok Sabha election results on May 16,” sources told dna.
As per the viewership figures that DD news has received, the channel had a viewership of around 1.11 crore (1,11,87,000) during this year’s 40th week (29 September – 5 October) with an increase of 39.47 lakh in viewership compared to the previous week. During the preceding week (week 39 – 22-28 September), DD news had a viewership of around 72 lakh only.
The data reveals that it was nearly double than what DD news was able to achieve during 33rd week which had prime minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day (15th August) speech from the Red Fort. During that particular week, DD news could generate viewership of around 52 lakh only.
“It was purely a news based decision of covering speech of chief of RSS – an organisation which is said to be the ideological parent of country’s ruling party. It was also important to cover it because this was first major speech by the RSS chief after coming into power of the BJP led NDA government,” said a senior functionary of the news channel while wishing anonymity.
“So, if needed it would be done in future as well. But it could also be that we may not cover in case the event is not important or newsworthy enough. But in conclusion, the decision proved to be a good one for the channel with a jump of nearly four million in the viewership,” the functionary added.
Live coverage of Bhagwat’s Dussehra speech from Nagpur, which houses RSS’s headquarters, had come under severe criticism from all quarters especially from opposition parties. It was probably the first time when RSS chief’s speech was covered live by the national broadcaster.
Several Congress leaders criticised the coverage with some even calling alleging that DD was being turned into RSS’s mouthpiece. Left parties like Communist Party of India also criticised it calling it a misuse of public broadcaster for spreading RSS’s propaganda.
DD news had, however, defended the decision stating that they are quite independent in its functioning and there was absolutely no pressure at all from any quarter on them to cover RSS chief’s speech unlike what several reports suggested.