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Reruns of 1980-90s classics Ramayan, Shaktimaan, Byomkesh make DD most-watched channel




A still from Ramanand Sagar's TV series Ramayan | YouTube screengrab
A still from Ramanand Sagar’s TV series Ramayan | YouTube screengrab

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New Delhi: Fuelled by the return of classics like Ramayan, Shaktimaan and Byomkesh Bakshi and the overall rise in TV viewership during lockdown, the state-run Doordarshan National has emerged as the most-watched channel across genres in the week of 28 March to 3 April.

The jump is significant, given that in just the previous week (21-27 March), DD National was not even in the top 10 most-viewed channels in the Hindi General Entertainment Channel (GEC) category, while now, it has topped all categories.

Fresh data released by Broadcast Audience Research Council-Nielsen Thursday showed that DD National’s viewership climbed to 580 million impressions in the 9am-10.30am slot in week 13 (28 March to 3 April), compared to just one million impressions in the previous week. In the 9pm-10.30pm slot, the corresponding numbers were 835 million impressions, compared to two million in week 12.

DD National was followed by Sun TV and Dangal as the most viewed channels across genres.

Also read: Ramayan on DD: Best way to keep India’s elderly indoors or show the young TV beyond Netflix?

Return of the classics

Ramayan, the 1987 dramatisation of the epic directed by Ramanand Sagar, gave DD National the biggest boost — its viewership grew 454 times in the morning and evening slots combined.

Shaktimaan, the Indian superhero series starring Mukesh Khanna, also gave DD National a significant boost — a 52-fold rise to 20.8 million impressions.

Byomkesh Bakshi contributed an 11 per cent jump, while other classics like Buniyaad, Dekh Bhai Dekh and the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Circus together gave the channel an eight-fold boost.

ThePrint had earlier reported that Ramayan had recorded 170 million, or 17 crore, viewers in the just first weekend of its rerun.

Mahabharat boosts DD Bharati figure

The B.R. Chopra-directed Mahabharat, the other TV epic from the late 1980s, is being broadcast on another Doordarshan channel, DD Bharati, and has also boosted viewership.

Mahabharat boosted DD Bharati’s viewership 365 times to 145.8 million impressions in week 13 in the morning and evening slots combined.

Even the digital traffic for all DD channels on YouTube has doubled since the re-runs of the iconic shows began.

Shashi Shekhar Vempati, head of Doordarshan’s parent Prasar Bharati, tweeted his thanks to viewers.

Also read: Game of Thrones holds viewership records, but Ramayan could cause ‘curfews’ in India

Overall state of TV viewership under lockdown

BARC-Nielsen also released the third edition of its report on TV and smartphone consumption Thursday, which revealed that average TV viewership has grown by 43 per cent in the 28 March-3 April period as compared to the average before the Covid-19 crisis, which has been calculated on the basis of data between 11 and 31 January.

News and movies across languages recorded an all-time-high growth this week, at 251 per cent and 77 per cent respectively.

Advertising volume, indicated by free commercial time across genres, went up 9 per cent compared to January, with sports channels registering the highest growth at 86 per cent.

The report also gave viewership figures for PM Narendra Modi’s messages to the nation on Covid-19 — the third message, urging people to light diyas and candles, was watched by 119 million people and recorded 1 billion viewing minutes.

The second address, announcing the nationwide lockdown, was watched by 196.5 million people.

Also read: DD gets back viewers with Ramayan, Shaktimaan, Byomkesh Bakshi. It’s most watched channel now


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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