DD mobile TV running unannounced, funds for digitalisation delayed

NEW DELHI: Though one mobile TV enabled digital terrestrial transmitter has been running for some days now, Prasar Bharati‘s digitalisation programme has been pushed back because the Planning Commission has so far not cleared funding for the ambitious programme.

Senior officials are tight-lipped about the mobile TV programme, telling that the content is ready, but they could not comment on the programme unless the money was released, which they had expected to be done last week.

It is learnt that one DTT has been modified, is mobile TV enabled and has been running. "There has been no formal announcement but it has been running," says an official. Also, an AIR digitalised shortwave transmitter is also beaming radio signals.


A fortnight ago, officials had said they would inform about the mobile TV programme, which had been on trial run during the Broadcasting Engineers‘ Society summit in February. Nokia had displayed a mobile handset on which TV programmes could be watched.

However, as of today, there are no signs of the Commission clearing the funding. An official, requesting not to be quoted, says: "This happens many times, and often the programme funding is cleared around August-September.


"This time around, we had hoped that we could see the money early because the government has been insisting on the go-digital programme, but it has not come so far."

He says that there is little hope of the money coming soon, and sources in the go-digital committee of the government tell that it has not met in the past four months, at least. "The files are gathering dust, we are not aware as to what the government is planning, and I really can‘t remember when we met last," says a committee member.

Incidentally, the broadcasting sector as a whole was left sorely disappointed when the Union Budget 2007 offered nothing in it for the industry as a whole and especially, nothing that would support the digitalisation programme.

"The government has been talking big about ensuring digitalisation before the Commonwealth Games of 2010, but what has it done so far to ensure that?" asks an irritated official.

Prasar Bharati engineers are ready with their programme, and in fact, a short wave digital radio channel has been successfully running since February ( had reported this). But there has been no forward movement from there, sources in the government say.

Prasar Bharati had demanded Rs 59 billion for digitalisation of AIR and Rs 60 billion for DD. The engineer-in-chief of Prasar Bharati, AS Guin, had told earlier that complete digitalisation would cost more than this, but even if this Rs 120 billion was released, a major chunk of the digitalisation target could be achieved within the timeframe (2010).

But even that now seems a distant dream as the finance ministry seems to have lost track completely of the elaborate programme drawn up by the Planning Commission to take the country into the digital transmission era on radio and TV.


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