National programmes, mainly aimed at promoting national integration and inculcating a sense of unity and fraternity are broadcast on this channel, which is the Number One channel in the country in terms of absolute viewer-ship. DD National blends a healthy mix of entertainment, information and education. The service is available in terrestrial mode from 5.30 am till midnight. In the satellite mode, DD National is available round the clock. The telecast time of this composite public service channel is so devised that it caters to the needs of different viewers at different timings.
All major National events like Republic Day Parade, Independence Day Celebrations, National Award Presentation ceremonies, President and Prime Minister’s addresses to the Nation, President’s address to the joint session of Parliament, important Parliamentary debates, Railway and General Budget presentations, Question Hour in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Election results and analysis, swearing-in ceremonies, President and Prime Minister’s visits abroad and visits of important foreign dignitaries to India are covered live on DD National. Important sports events like Olympics, Asian Games, Cricket ODI Internationals involving India and other important sporting event also telecast live.
The education components have contributions from varied sources such as Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), University Grants Commission (UGC), Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET) and State Institutes of Education Technology (SIET). In addition, there are sponsored programmes like programmes on issues related to women, tribal affairs and other public service programmes which are broadcast on regular basis.
The information component on DD National consists of news and current affairs programmes largely produced in-house. The Question Hour in Parliament is telecast live on the DD National and DD News Channel.
A specific window is earmarked for programmes in regional languages between 6.00 a.m. to 9.00 a.m. & 3.00 p.m. and 8.00 p.m. on all days for public utility and entertainment programmes in the regional languages and dialects.
The entertainment programmes mainly consist of mid-day daily soaps telecast between 12 noon and 3.00 p.m. and serial Programmes from 7.00 p.m. to midnight. This includes telecast of feature films on Friday, Saturday and Sunday Best of Indian Cinema including Award winning regional films on Sunday & Monday.
A new format film slot –‘Bioscope’ was introduced on DD National during 2004. In this slot a Hindi feature film is telecast in serialised form on Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 pm. Many classics of yesteryears have been shown on Bio-scope till now.
The telecast rights of the films are acquired on payment of royalty to the rights-holder on the basis of a rate structure linked to the vintage value of the film. The films are selected on the basis of their box office performance, marketability and appeal to the viewers of Doordarshan. The films are being marketed in-house. This system has proved beneficial to Doordarshan.
Prasar Bharati has entered into a partnership with the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) to source quality documentaries on various issues of concern to the public. These documentaries, produced by eminent as well as budding film makers are telecast on DD National. The agreement with PSBT has been renewed. Prasar Bharati also participates actively in the annual documentary film festival – Open Frame.