Indian Television is a huge industry which has dozens of programs in many languages. The small screen has produced numerous celebrities. More than half of all Indian households own a television. As of 2016, the country has a collection of over 857 channels of which 184 are pay channels.
January 1950, The Indian Express reported that a television was put up for demonstration at an exhibition in the Teynampet locality of Madras (now Chennai) by B. Sivakumaran, a student of electrical engineering. A letter was scanned and its image displayed on a cathode ray tube screen. The report said that “t may be this is not the whole of television but it is certainly the most significant link in the system” and added that the demonstration of the sort could be the “first in India.
Desi / Indian small screen programming started off in the early 1980s. During this time, there was only one national channel, the government-owned Doordarshan. The Ramayana and Mahabharata, both based on the Indian epics of the same names, were the first major television series produced. They notched up world record in viewership numbers. By the late 1980s, more people began to own television sets. Though there was a single channel, television programming had reached saturation. Hence the government opened up another channel which had part national programming and part regional. This channel was known as DD 2, later renamed DD Metro. Both channels were broadcast terrestrially. In 1997, Prasar Bharati, a statutory autonomous body was established. Doordarshan along with the AIR were converted into government corporations under Prasar Bharati. The Prasar Bharati Corporation was established to serve as the public service broadcaster of the country which would achieve its objectives through AIR and Doordashan. This was a step towards greater autonomy for Doordarshan and AIR. However, Prasar Bharati has not succeeded in shielding Doordarshan from government control.