National broadcaster Doordarshan dyes its flagship logo in saffron

Doordarshan, which has been criticised in the past by the BJP for being a pro-government channel that does not give space for the Opposition, has adopted the party’s flag colour code for its new logo.
New logo of DD News
New logo of DD NewsDoordarshan
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The Union government has decided to rebrand the state-owned public news television channel DD news, the flagship channel of national broadcaster Doordarshan, with a new saffron-coloured logo. Saffron is part of the national tricolour and also used by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The logo came into effect on April 16, Tuesday, replacing the old one in red colours.

In a social media post, DD news said that their values remain the same and are now available in a new avatar. “Get ready for a news journey like never before.. Experience the all-new DD News. We have the courage to put: Accuracy over speed, facts over claims, Truth over sensationalism. Because if it is on DD News, it is the truth,” the post added.

The development has drawn criticism, with some people questioning the timing of the change just ahead of Ram Navami. Vijay Thottathil, a Indian National Congress (INC) supporter, said that this was an attempt to saffronise India. “Save India from saffronisation, No Vote for BJP,” he said.

Interestingly, Doordarshan has been criticised in the past by the BJP for being a pro-government channel that does not give space for the Opposition. Amid the polling of 2014 Lok Sabha elections, in which the Narendra Modi government came into power for the first time, Doordarshan was accused of censorship by the BJP over an edited interview of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In fact, Modi himself tweeted, “I feel very sad to see our national TV channel struggling to maintain its professional freedom.” Manish Tewari, former Minister of Information and Broadcasting, responded by stating that DD’s autonomy and editorial decisions were guaranteed by the Parliament.

The situation changed drastically after the BJP government came into power. In 2015, the assistant director of Doordarshan was transferred from Ahmedabad to Andaman after the Gujarati channel of the national broadcaster aired a news item regarding Jashodaben, PM Modi’s wife.

Read: Doordarshan, Political Masters and The Redundant Debate Over Autonomy

In 2018, Doordarshan telecasted a BJP event, in which Home Minister Amit Shah unfurled the national flag at the party headquarters in Delhi. According to guidelines, DD and All India Radio are mandated live coverage to only government events, and not political parties. Doordarshan had not given any other political party, including the Congress, this benefit. 

The same year, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman created a furore after Doordarshan cut into an advertisement during Tyagaraja Aradhana – a musical event honouring Telugu saint-composer Tyagaraja. She said, “Yo @DDNational what! You couldn’t wait for a few moments more for the Pancharatna Krithi-s to be completed. Advertisement and more. #Aradhana #Tyagaraja. Thoughtless, insensitive. (sic)”

In 2019, Congress approached the Election Commission (EC) alleging that Doordarshan was giving preferential treatment for the ruling party. When the EC sought complete information on coverage of various political parties and prominent leaders, the network defended the move by stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “high news value.”

According to the Broadcasting Corporation of India Act, the network must “safeguard citizen’s right to be informed freely, truthfully and objectively on all matters of public interest” and air “contrasting views without advocating any opinion or ideology of its own”.

The same year, Doordarshan had suspended an assistant director of the network for failing to live relay PM Modi’s speech, which he delivered at a hackathon event in IIT. The suspension order did not explicitly state the reason but sources had told TNM it was due to “willful insubordination.”

In 2020, Doordarshan’s decision to dedicate a slot for Sanskrit news programme every day was met with resistance, especially in Tamil Nadu. Many political leaders condemned the move, including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, over the preferential treatment given to certain languages. It was the same year the channel declared the false claim that Hindi was the national language of the country. 

Read: TNM fact check: Hindi has never been India's national language as Doordarshan claimed

More recently in 2024, the Union government’s decision to telecast the film ‘The Kerala Story’ on India’s national broadcaster Doordarshan on April 5 was met with severe criticism. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Doordarshan must not degrade into a puppet that dances to the communal agenda of the Sangh Parivar and demanded the Union government not to use the platform to disparage Kerala. The Ram Temple Inauguration, which is not a government event, was also aired by the network in January.  

In July 2023, Union Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnav had announced that the new colour of Vande Bharat Express train will be saffron, inspired by one of the colours in the Indian national flag.

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