How a TV station was launched with Rs 4 lakh

How The Hindu reported the birth of India’s public television broadcaster 50 years ago. The terrestrial station went on air on 15 September but the report appeared in the newspaper two days later.

Launched under the banner of All India Radio (AIR), it later attained its own brandname, Doordarshan. DD’s trademark signature, first brought to life by Ustad Ali Ahmad Hussain Khan, was later improvised upon by the sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar.

“The experimental television service of All India Radio, inaugurated by President Rajendra Prasad on September 15 at the Vigyan Bhavan is the first in South-East Asia. The TV station, equipped with four cameras, a 500-watt transmitter and other apparatus costing about rupees four lakhs, is housed in a single room on the fifth storey of Akashvani Bhavan, an annexe of the radio station, from where the programmes will be relayed twice every week within a radius of twelve miles.”


As a broadcaster mandated to serve the public, arts and culture, especially high arts and culture, was the backbone of both AIR and DD till the arrival of satellite television.

Below is the theme music of Surabhi, Doordarshan’s weekly arts and culture show hosted by Siddharth Kak.


Also read: On India’s TV anniversary, no monkeying around

Pratima Puri: India’s first TV news reader passes away

Tejeshwar Singh: A baritone falls silent watching the cacophony

1 Comment

  1. Journalist

    Looking at the 100+ channels on the idiot box today one becomes nostalgic about t he good old DD. After all if I am asked to name the best serials that I have seen on TV, I would name Buniyad, Humlog, Bharat ek Khoj, Turning Point, Yeh jo hai Zindagi, Malgudi days, Swami and Friends, Wagle ki Duniya,Surabhi,Phool khile hain Gulshan Gulshan, Ghalib, Naseeruddin Hodja,Tamas, Karmachand, Nukkad, Fauji, Circus, Srikant, Vyomkesh Bakshi, Mungerilal, Chanakya, Mahabharat, Pritish Nandi Show, The World This Week.Notably all of them except Pritish nandi show were on DD. And who can forget the DD news readers. The worst among them like Minu look a hundred times better composed than today’s shrill princesses and princes. Though one used to curse the news content as being one sided government propaganda today the best news and current affairs shows are on Lok Sabha TV and DD. Cheers

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