BBC World Service Trust is working in partnership with Doordarshan and National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to run a major mass-media campaign in North India to combat the spread of HIV-AIDS. The project involves the launch of two new, long-running TV programmes, a radio magazine show, TV and radio spots, and an interactive video-based strategy that combines community participation and health-service delivery.

The TV campaign began in July 2002 and will run until April 2003; the radio campaign was launched in April 2002 and will run through to May, 2003. Final evaluation results will be available in July 2003.

The objective of this project is to reduce the rate of growth of HIV infection by reinforcing the Government of India's efforts to promote knowledge of the causes and means of prevention of HIV, change attitudes toward HIV prevention and people living with HIV/AIDS, and promote positive and sustained behavioural change. The target areas are Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana.
Communication Strategies: 

The programme utilises TV, radio, print media, video and interpersonal communication based on social advertising and entertainment principles. TV initiatives include:

  • An interactive detective series (Doordarshan (DD) Lucknow, Jaipur, Delhi) broadcast three times per week during evening primetime hours. The detective gets to tackle some of the toughest cases of his career. While the stories are not directly about AIDS, issues relating to AIDS are central to every storyline. Many of the 10-minute episodes focus on sexual health and relationship issues, with positive/negative/transitional characters acting as role models. The series includes audience participation to encourage discussion and debate between viewers. The programme will run for a total of 10 consecutive months. An omnibus edition of the show has been given a national broadcast every Sunday evening, and the show is among the top-rated on Doordarshan.
  • A 30-minute weekly "reality" programme (DD Lucknow, Jaipur, Delhi) targeting regional youth audiences. The show features a boy's bus and a girl's bus roaming around the campaign's target states, with passengers competing to perform challenges using sexual-health lifeskills at every stop on the road. Audience members will be invited to write in to suggest challenges for the passengers, which could include everything from buying condoms without embarrassment, to talking openly about sexual health issues. Music, celebrity interviews, and video clips of life on the buses will complete the package. The programme will run for a total of 10 consecutive months.
  • A total of 27 one-minute regional social advertising spots (DD, Lucknow, Jaipur, Delhi) produced at regional levels with the support of leading Indian advertising experts. Messages focus on transmission, prevention, stigma, and care/support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Formats are based on entertainment principles, including drama, comedy, and music-based scripts. Spots will be broadcast three times per day in prime time over a 10-month period (three months in Year One and seven months in Year Two)
  • Three one-minute national Hindi spots produced by leading Indian advertising experts for free national cable and satellite broadcast. Messages will cover same subjects as regional spots.

Radio initiatives include:

  • A 60-minute interactive "magazine" show (All India Radio (AIR) FM and AIR Uttar Pradesh primary channel) to be broadcast over 14 months. The show combines music, comedy sketches, and Bollywood gossip with a substantial call-in segment in which audience members are be invited talk about their personal health and relationship issues with youth presenters and local experts popular among young listeners. The show airs on AIR Lucknow's new FM channel on Sunday evenings and is be taped for additional broadcast during the week on the main UP AIR network. The programme is be accompanied by spots and jingles, which are be played during commercial breaks. Audience members are also invited to write in for further information about HIV/AIDS, with the Trust to produce a youth-orientated booklet with basic facts about HIV/AIDS and information about where to go locally for testing/counselling
  • Ten one-minute social advertising spots/jingles produced by AIR Lucknow. Messages cover transmission, prevention, stigma, and care/support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Spots are broadcast three times per day during the 16 month period in which the phone-in show is on air.

A further component of the initiative's strategy is reaching people in rural areas of Uttar Pradesh with low access to the mass media. To this end, the programme features regular video van screenings of the project's TV programmes in 1200 villages within UP with limited access to TV and radio and a high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)/reproductive tract infections (RTIs). These screenings will be combined with a post-screening quiz and follow-up discussion groups facilitated by male and female community-based health workers who have been trained by the Trust. These gender-specific discussion groups will analyse the themes and messages dramatised in the video screenings and will use role play and print-based materials to facilitate discussions about sexual and reproductive health. These interpersonal interventions will be repeated in the same villages over the course of the year in an effort to effect long-term behavioural change.

The broadcast period in Year One began with a national press conference in July 2002 and mass media promotional ads announcing the new programme formats and viewing times. In Year Two, the Trust will expand its relationship with the satellite TV channels, cable operators, and AIR radio stations across the focus states. At a planned conference involving TV executives from all the main channels in India, panel discussions will be held on the role of social issues in popular TV and radio programming, while an awards luncheon will recognise those programme executives who have been particularly successful in attracting high viewership for programmes with strong public education themes.

Producers and managers will be selected to attend formal BBC-led technical training sessions to be held in New Delhi throughout the project. These sessions will sharpen production skills to be deployed during the project.

Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, Youth.

Key Points: 

The programme is modelled on the BBC World Service Trust-Prasar Bharati production partnership in support of the Government of India's National Leprosy Eradication Programme, 1999-2001. This model involves the donation of free airtime and production staff/facilities by Prasar Bharati (Doordarshan TV and All India Radio) in exchange for international technical expertise, production/research costs, formal training, and project management from BBC World Service Trust.

Partner Text: 

National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), Doordarshan (DD), All India Radio (AIR), the BBC World Service Trust.


Letter sent from Lori McDougall, BBC World Service Trust, to the Communication Initiative on March 1, 2002, updated by Peter Gill, BBC World Service Trust on October 11, 2002.