DD's DTH to carry 200 channels: Soni

NEW DELHI: Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said today that she has asked Prasar Bharati to work towards offering at least 200 television channels on the country’s only free-to-air direct-to-home (DTH) platform, DD Direct Plus.

‘‘We are discussing the matter with the Prasar Bharati people, and I have asked them to try to increase the number of FTA channels to about 200,‘‘ Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters here after releasing the annual India 2010 and Bharat 2010 reference manual brought out by the Publications Division and the Research and Reference Division of her Ministry.

Currently, DD Direct Plus carries 57 channels, apart from 21 channels of All India Radio. The TV channels include 21 Doordarshan channels.

Soni said the decision to increase the number of channels on DD DTH was in consonance with the objectives of the Ministry to make the public broadcaster of maximum use to the public. 

Earlier this year, Soni had denied in Parliament that any television channels had withdrawn from DD Direct Plus. She said DD Direct Plus signals were available in the entire country except the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

DD sources told that it may be possible to increase the number of channels on the platform as the annual carriage fee that broadcasters have to pay has been lowered. The carriage fee for all private FTA channels has been brought down from Rs 10 million to Rs 2.5 million along with a service tax of Rs 300,000. However, foreign broadcasters have to pay a carriage fee of Rs 5 million.

Earlier releasing the INDIA 2010 and BHARAT 2010 publications, Soni said the aim should be to sell at least 100,000 copies and this could only be done by approaching all state governments and educational institutions to buy copies. 
Soni was reacting to the remark earlier made by the Director General in charge of the Reference, Research and Training Division of the Ministry, SM Khan. She said that unless information about Government schemes reaches every citizen, the work of the media units of the Ministry remains unfinished. The Minister advised that proper translation in all constitutional languages should be made available in educational institutions.

Additional Director General (In-charge) of Publications Division K S Dhatwalia assured the Minister that all efforts to increase sales of books by Publications Division would be undertaken in earnest. Ministry Secretary Raghu Menon was also present on the occasion. 

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