Information & broadcasting minister Pramod Mahajan inaugurated Doordarshan‘s multi-storeyed studio building in Mumbai on 2 June. The new facility has four tv studios, one sound studio and is equipped with state-of-the-art digital cameras. The studio building and equipment is estimated to have cost around Rs 300 million and is located in the same premises as DD‘s existing transmission centre in Mumbai.

The inauguration had been pending for quite sometime thanks to the rapid change of guard in the corridors of power in Delhi. The Mumbai DD centre already has three studios, two outdoor broadcast vans, and two transmitters with regional satellite uplink and one digital satellite news link.

Mahajan during the inauguration said that it was good that DD‘s was getting access to the latest facilities but he pointed out that DD will have to evolve to compete with satellite channels otherwise it would become extinct. He was open to the idea of leasing out the studio facilities on a commercial basis to private companies.

The minister added that he had a vision of DD launching itself into education soon. "I see a bouquet of 10 educational channels on a DTH basis," he said. "The best teachers will be selected to create programming based on the educational syllabus in the state for these television channels. Digital compression will make this possible and at reasonable costs. The educational channels will go a long way in making people in the interiors literate."

Mahajan also announced the government‘s decision to lay a comprehensive ban on Pakistan Television in India. He said that he was doing this under the Cable Network Regulations Act as PTV broadcasts was broadcasting propaganda which could be harmful to India‘s security. He added that the government was taking the right decision and any cable operators which would choose to retransmit PTV on their networks would be arrested and held responsible. Cable operators in Mumbai immediately switched off PTV on their networks. The PTV ban has met with considerable support over most parts of India.

PTV meanwhile made a mockery of the ban on the satellite channel by announcing Indian viewers who cannot watch the channel can read the latest developments in Pakistan and get the Pakistani viewpoint by logging into the channel‘s website. Pakistani forces also had their revenge when they shelled the DD centre in the conflict ridden Kargil. While the the centre and transmission tower were engulfed in the fire, transmissions from the centre were not disrupted.

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