Free Dish capacity to go up from 80 to 104 TV channels before year-end

NEW DELHI: Free Dish, the country’s only free-to-air direct-to-home television platform, will increase its capacity to carry around 104 channels within the next few months.

A senior Doordarshan official told indiantelevision.com that the process of switching over from MPEG2 to MPEG4 had been completed and was being tested. This had already taken the headend capacity to 112.

Free Dish at present carries eighty television channels including its own, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV, and private channels, apart from 32 channels of All India Radio.

The official said the platform had been encrypted by adopting the Indian Conditional Access System (iCAS) developed by ByDesign India Pvt. Ltd. of Bangalore. But he clarified that the platform would remain free-to-air and the aim of iCAS was only to keep track of the number of households that were using Free Dish and keep a check on the quality of set top boxes.

(It is also learnt that Doordarshan is expected to issue an Expression of Notice within a month for manufacture of compatible STBs for Free Dish.)

Meanwhile, the official said Free Dish was also hopeful of re-launching Gyan Darshan on its platform shortly as the problems that the Indira Gandhi National Open University was facing when DD was forced to take the channel off-air have been ‘virtually sorted out’.

However, the official said no communication had been received from the Human Resource Development Ministry in this conection so far.

He denied reports that any channels of the Human Resource Development Ministry were currently under test transmission on Free Dish.

The official said DD was aware of the announcement by Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Jawadekar that 32 Direct to Home (DTH) Television Channels are to be launched by September for providing high quality educational content to all teachers, students and citizens across the country interested in lifelong learning.

DD was also aware that the HRD Ministry had acquired two transponders on G-SAT 15, which could possibly be used for this.

Meanwhile, the official said that all information on Free Dish was available on the ddindia.gov.in website and denied that Free Dish had established any separate website Freedish.in. When his attention was drawn to the website, he said attempts would be made to find out who was running the website which was clearly illegal.

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