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.