Doordarshan completes digitalisation of 17 studios

NEW DELHI: The digitalisation programme of the public broadcaster would be completed by 2017 and 17 out of the 64 Doordarshan studio centres have been fully digitalised, Prasar Bharati CEO B S Lalli said.

Speaking today at the launch function of the pilot project which made eight DD channels accessible on compatible mobile phones in Delhi, Lalli said another 30 centres were partly digitalized. DD had 1400 transmitters all over the country.

The focus on digitalisation was also emphasised by information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi who launched the project. He said special thrust has been laid on digitalization of broadcasting in the eleventh Five Year Plan and expected a major part of this to be completed by the time of the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

The minister also announced that the project would be extended to other centres shortly.

Referring to the Digital Video Broadcasting (Handheld) – DVB -H – Pilot Project, Lalli said the trial runs had commenced in December. The eight channels will be available in a radius of 12 km of the television tower on Parliament Street in New Delhi. He stressed that the project was vendor-neutral and Doordarshan had not tied up with any mobile service provider for the scheme.

The service will initially be free to air and the channels available on the DVB-H mode are: DD National (DD 1), DD News, DD Bharati, DD Sports, DD Urdu, DD Bangla, DD Punjabi, and DD Podhigai (Tamil).

Doordarshan Engineering-in-Chief A S Guin said the number of channels available on the DVB-H mode will go up ultimately to sixteen. The project had been sanctioned in February 2006 and though the project was initially planned from the Pitampura tower, it was shifted to Parliament Street to make it more accessible.

He described this as the second major technological revolution in media in recent years, the first being Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial which had turned Doordarshan into the largest terrestrial network in the whole world.

Work was now on for the pilot project to enter the era of High Definition Television (HDTV) for which a budget of Rs 150 million had been sanctioned this year. Though all the metros will be digitalized and have HDTV by the time of the Commonwealth Games, he said analogue transmission will have to continue for several years since many years were still accessible on digital technologies.

Doordarshan DirectorGeneral L D Mandloi also spoke on the occasion, and Pandit Rakesh Chaurasia (nephew of Hari Prasad Chaurasia) presented a flute recital, performing ‘Shudh-Sarang’ in which he was accompanied by Ustad Rashid Mustafa Thirakwa on the tabla.

Earlier, Lalli told that the cost of a TV compatible handset had been brought down to Rs 18,000 from the initial Rs 32,000 and may come down further to around Rs 6,000.

Mr Guin said in an informal chat later that Rs 25 million had been set aside for the DVB-H project. He said that DD will gradually have to shift to mobile-specific programming since a mobile user could not watch long serials or films for long periods.

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