Outrage in India after state-run TV channel changes logo colour to orange

 (DD News )
(DD News )

India’s state-run broadcaster, DD News, has changed the colour of its logo from ruby red to saffron, drawing the ire of the opposition political parties as high-stake elections are underway in the country.

The move by broadcaster Prasar Bharati, the parent organisation that runs DD News, has again raised concerns about the country’s shrinking press freedom.

The broadcaster officially unveiled the new logo on Tuesday while attempting to downplay the significance of the move, saying “our values remain the same”.

“While our values remain the same, we are now available in a new avatar. Get ready for a news journey like never before.. Experience the all-new DD News!” it said in a post on X.

“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,” it added.

The new saffron logo has sparked outrage among opposition political parties which claim it was an attempt at “saffronising” the country and its important institutions.

The saffron colour has been associated with the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has adopted it as its official colour, using it in party flags, banners, scarfs and attire. The colour also holds religious significance among Hindus.

Prasar Bharti is the parent organisation that operates the radio and television media arms of the federal government – Aakashvani All India Radio and Doordarshan [DD] respectively.

Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal and chair of All India Trinamool Congress (TMC), said she is “shocked at the sudden saffronisation and change of colour of our Doordarshan logo when the national elections are taking place across the country!”

“It is absolutely unethical, grossly illegal, and speaks loudly of the pro-BJP bias of the national public broadcaster!” Ms Banerjee said.

She asked the Election Commission to immediately have it reversed, calling it violation of the Model Code of Conduct as elections are underway.

Former CEO of Prasar Bharti, Jawhar Sircar, said that he has been watching DD’s “saffronisation with alarm”.

“It’s not just the logo, everything about the public broadcaster is saffron now. While the programmes and events of the ruling party get maximum airtime, Opposition parties hardly get any space now,” Mr Sircar who is also the MP of the opposition Trinamool Congress [TMC] party said.

Critics have also questioned the timing of the decision as national elections in the country kicked off on 19 April with prime minister Narendra Modi seeking a rare third term.

Shubhankar Bhattacharya, a spokesperson for the TMC party, said he fears that even the “tricolour of India is under threat” from the ruling party that wants to “paint the entire nation in one particular colour, that is saffron.

“What was the need?..it is just to prove your power to people. They are showing that you either bow down or we will make you toe the line,” he said on Times Now.

An Indian social media user noted the channel is state-owned, which means that it is public property and political parties should not have “rights to take such a biased decision”.

Addressing the concerns, Prasar Bharati CEO Gaurav Dwivedi told The Indian Express that the new logo has “a catchy orange colour” and the decision is purely based on the rebranding of the channel.

“A few months ago, ahead of G20 (summit), we had carried out a revamp of DD India and settled upon a set of graphics as visual language for that channel,” he said,

“Using a bright, appealing colour is purely about the channel’s branding and visual aesthetic and it is unfortunate for anyone to be reading anything else into that,” he said. “It’s not only a new logo, the entire look and feel has been upgraded — we have a new set, new lighting, seating arrangement and equipment.”

Last year, India’s public broadcaster signed a two-year contract with a news agency backed by the ideological parent organisation of the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The public broadcaster had signed an exclusive deal with Hindusthan Samachar for its daily news feed. Hindusthan Samachar is allegedly backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent organisation of the ruling BJP.

According to the World Press Freedom Index released in May last year, India’s ranking dropped to 150 out of 180 nations, from its last-year ranking of 142.