New Delhi: Revenue generated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio address Mann Ki Baat has dipped by around 90 per cent in the last three years.
This even though it has garnered Rs 30.8 crore since its launch in 2014, according to figures put out by Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Anurag Thakur in the Rajya Sabha Monday.
According to data available with the Rajya Sabha, the revenue earned for the programme — generated through advertisements — was Rs 10.64 crore in 2017-18, but dipped to Rs 1.02 crore in 2020-21. In 2018-19 and 2019-20, the revenue generated was Rs 7.47 crore and Rs 2.56 crore respectively.
In the Rajya Sabha, the I&B minister did not offer any specific reason for the declining revenue. He, however, said that the primary objective of the programme is to “establish a dialogue with the citizens on issues of day-to-day governance”.
The PMO-driven Mann Ki Baat — broadcast on the entire All India Radio network as well as 34 Doordarshan channels and 91 private satellite television channels — is one of Modi’s biggest mass outreach platforms.
The programme has a presence on social media as well — audiences can access the episodes of the programme in various languages and dialects on dedicated YouTube channels.
According to government data, the programme has achieved a viewership of 11.8 crore and reached 14.3 crore people in 2020. Prasar Bharati — the parent body of AIR and DD — has undertaken the translation and re-broadcast of the monthly radio show in 51 languages and dialects.
ThePrint sent a text message to the I&B ministry for a comment on why the revenue had gone down but did not receive a response till the time of publishing this report.
Talking about the dip in revenues, a senior AIR official, however, told ThePrint that the purpose of the programme is not revenue generation and the focus is on citizen engagement on issues of public and national interest.
“Given the audience profile and the purpose of Mann Ki Baat, there is increased social messaging rather than commercial advertising,” the official said.
How does Mann Ki Baat generate revenues?
The revenue generated by Mann Ki Baat is through advertisements aired on AIR and DD during the programme.
Sources in the government told ThePrint that multiple factors contributed to this sharp fall in revenues.
“The first reason is, of course, the pandemic. Advertising across the industry has suffered, and DD and AIR are no exceptions,” a senior government official told ThePrint.
Mann Ki Baat receives both government advertisements and those from private clients. While private advertising saw a massive decline in the last two years, government advertising also went down significantly in the same period, the official added.
A second senior government official said poor client servicing by AIR and DD is also a likely factor. “Clients at times cannot be provided with adequate data on impact analysis and other measures, not just for Mann Ki Baat, but also other shows,” the official said.
Another source told ThePrint that a few local stations were clubbed together for centralised broadcasts. “This could have affected the revenues too, especially those generated by the smaller stations,” the source said.
According to a report by the Standing Committee on Information Technology, made public in March this year, Prasar Bharati’s overall net income had nearly halved in the last three years. The data excluded the last quarter of 2020-21.
A sharp decline in government spending, more spending on social media and a large number of on-request pro bono campaigns executed by DD and AIR were cited by the I&B ministry as reasons.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)
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