Opposition sees red as Doordarshans new saffron logo sparks controversy
Doordarshan was first aired on September 15, 1959, as a public service telecasting service. | Photo: X/@DDNewslive

Opposition sees red as Doordarshan's new saffron logo sparks controversy

Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari alleged the logo colour change was the Modi regime’s bid to capture government institutions

National broadcaster Doordarshan seems to have sparked a controversy by changing the colour of its historic flagship logo from red to saffron, as the move has drawn flak from the Opposition parties.

The announcement was made through the official X handle of DD News, which in a post, said, “While our values remain the same, we are now available in a new avatar. Get ready for a news journey like never before...Experience the all-new DD News.” DD News, the English news channel of Doordarshan, revealed the logo while sharing a new promotional video on X recently.

The new logo drew widespread condemnation online with several users pointing out that it was saffron and also questioning its timing just before the elections. TMC MP Jawhar Sircar, former boss of Doordarshan’s parent organisation Prasar Bharati, also stated that it hurts to see the “saffronisation” of Doordarshan's logo just before elections.

Prasar Bharati slammed

“National broadcaster Doordarshan colours its historic flagship logo in saffron! As its ex-CEO, I have been watching its saffronisation with alarm and feel - it's not Prasar Bharati any more - it's Prachar Bharati,” he said in an online post.

Sircar had served as the CEO of Prasar Bharati, the statutory body that oversees Doordarshan and All India Radio, from 2012 until 2016.

Resenting the move, he said in a video, “It's quite inappropriate to see the national broadcaster has chosen the colour saffron for its branding.” He also termed the decision as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

“It’s not just the logo, everything about the public broadcaster is saffron now. While the programmes and events of the ruling party get maximum airtime, Opposition parties hardly get any space now,” he told The Indian Express. He further said that it is a “visual entrapment”.

Former Union Information and Broadcasting Minister and senior Congress leader Manish Tewari alleged the logo colour change was the Modi regime’s bid to capture government institutions. In an exclusive conversation with India Today TV, Tewari said, “This is an attempt on the part of the government to saffronise and capture the government institutions. The said move clearly undermines the neutrality and credibility of India's public broadcaster.”

CEO rebuts charges

However, Prasar Bharati CEO Gaurav Dwivedi differed with Sircar, justifying the move as essential in line with visual aesthetics. He also insisted that the colour was orange.

“Using a bright, appealing colour was based on the channel's branding and visual aesthetic. Not just the logo, the channel has also upgraded its look and feel, including new lighting and equipment,” he said while speaking to The Indian Express. He said it is incorrect and unfortunate that people are reading more into this. “We were working on changing the look and feel of DD for the past six to eight months,” he added.

Khadi outfits for anchors

Interestingly, the Centre last month made it mandatory for Doordarshan news anchors to wear Khadi outfits.

India's Public Service Broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, and Khadi India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in September 2023, under which the anchors of DD News and DD India "will now actively contribute to carrying forward India's rich heritage and modernity by wearing clothes made of Khadi". DD had also announced that it would live telecast morning prayers offered to the Ram Lalla idol in Ayodhya every day.

Tracing DD’s journey

Meanwhile, media reports have quoted Prasar Bharati officials saying that when Doordarshan was launched in 1959, it had a saffron logo.

Later, its colours were changed to blue, yellow, and red. However, the two petals with a globe in the centre remained the same. The channel's logo also included the words “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” but that was done away with in due course.

Doordarshan was first aired on September 15, 1959, as a public service telecasting service. It became a broadcaster with daily transmissions of morning and evening shows in 1965, having transmission in Delhi.

The services were extended to Mumbai, Amritsar and other cities by 1975. On April 1, 1976, it came under the Information and Broadcast Ministry and in 1982, Doordarshan became the national broadcaster. Later, in 1984, the DD network added more channels under its umbrella.

At present, Doordarshan operates six national and 17 regional channels.

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