Once bitten should usually be twice shy, but that doesn’t hold for the government. The Union law ministry is planning a dedicated, free-to-air channel to broadcast content related to legal matters. The ministry hopes to use one of the 32 channels that the HRD ministry has in its Swayam Prabha bouquet to air debates on courts verdicts with far-reaching ramifications and legal awareness programmes. It is trying to generate enough content so that ‘DD Law’ or whatever else the channel is finally named can be beamed 24/7. It has even announced a contest for legal literacy short films to both generate content and buzz around the project.
While no one will fault the ministry’s intent, it just needs to look at the debacle that DD Kisan, launched in 2015, is to understand it is very unlikely that such channels will take off. A year after its launch, it had an average direct weekly viewership of just 172 million per week in 2016. For perspective, there are 263 million farmers, as per the 2011 Census. While debates on triple talaq and Uniform Civil Code—which the law ministry is reportedly planning to air—may make for riveting content, such topics aren’t really a dime a dozen. Getting big-wig Bollywood directors, as is also being planned, to generate content is an interesting approach but whether this will be enough to rake in viewership is doubtful. So, even though the idea may not be shorn of merit, a DD Law is more likely to end up as a waste of taxpayers’ money.