Digital broadcaster, Doordarshan, India's public broadcaster, launched an Urdu TV network, DD-Urdu, on Independence Day, August 15.
Urdu is spoken by 8 per cent population, perhaps numbering 50 million of which 10 million it is their mother tongue. It is the official language of Pakistan and the state language of the Indian provinces of Jammu and Kashmir. It is closely related to Persian.
( Note: In this news story, I could not find a single reference to who spoke Urdu when reading the Indian press!)
Doordarshan has faced delays according to well covered press reports from "general inertia" inside Indian government departments.
Well it is on air, on the Doordarshan satellite bouquet, available across the whole of India?
The channel has been designated by the government as a public service TV channel. Already, the availability of programming and content is proving a problem - a problem of the bureaucracy. The Ministry of Information says that program content will be a mixed bag; part entertainment, part news and part information.
DD-Urdu is on air for seven-and-a-half hours daily, with only two-and- a-half hours of fresh programming in the evening. To fill the next day's airtime, programs are re-run in two blocks to supplement the live segment.
It is appalling to think the depth or resources available in India for digital broadcast production, yet DD-Urdu seems handicapped before it started.
At least there will be a daily TV news magazine, entitled `Imroze'.
Renowned, film director Muzaffar Ali has been commissioned to produce a 52-episode series on Urdu literati.
In-house production includes a film-based program, while a cultural round-up program has been out-sourced to ANI TV for weekly transmission.
DD says more outside Urdu program commissions are being offered.
Perhaps the vibrant UK Urdu speakers could lend a hand in programming? Then perhaps allegiances might be elsewhere!