Television soap operas for development in India.

Singhal A; Rogers EM
[Unpublished] 1987. Presented at the International Communication Association, Montreal, Canada, May 21-25, 1987. 25 p.

Pro-development soap operas represent a way of capitalizing on the rapid expansion of television audiences in developing countries. The television series "Hum Log," the 1st indigenous soap opera on the government-run television network in India (Doordarshan), was patterned after Mexico's experiences with soap operas for development. During its 17 months of broadcasting in 1984-85, Hum Log addressed many of the important social and moral issues confronting Indian society, including women's status, family planning, alcoholism, and dowry. An audience of over 50 million people watched the average Hum Log episode. The program commanded ratings from 65-90% in North India and between 20-45% in South India, where Hindi programs are generally rejected by television viewers. The soap opera was popular across all income groups, although slightly more popular with lower and middle class people than with the very rich or the very poor. As the 1st commercially sponsored program on Doordarshan, Hum Log ushered in a new commercial era for Indian television. Hum Log also stimulated a proliferation of over 30 such domestically produced serials on Doordarshan. Further, the series stimulated a shift of talent from the Bombay movie industry to television. A soap opera focused on family planning is scheduled to go on the air in early 1988. Although an objective evaluation of Hum Log's success in reaching its development goals has not yet been completed, there is general consensus that such soap operas can make significant contributions to improving the status of women in Third World countries and dealing with overpopulation.

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