BBC World going digital 1 December

Television news channel BBC World, which completed 10 years of operations in India last month, is going digital from 1 December, 2001.

Speaking to, Erica Rowe, head of specialist news distribution, BBC World, said to ensure a smooth transition to a digital feed, the 24-hour British news channel would be operating a dual illumination feed, continuing the analog feed on the PAS 10 satellite till 31 March 2001.

Rowe and Gerrie Richie, head of network development, are currently in India for the dual purpose of announcing the digitalisation plan and meeting cable operators from across the country to "thank them for the support they have extended to BBC World" over the last ten years.

Richie said the conversion of BBC World to a digital field "was part of an overall strategy we have for the distribution of BBC World."

Rowe said she was in India for the next four weeks as part of a communication effort celebrating BBC's ten years in India where meetings with cable operators were being organised across the four metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Calcutta.

Over 500 guests were invited for the Mumbai bash held last night at the Taj Hotel in south Mumbai, Rowe said. There would be similar parties in Bangalore (12th November), Delhi (16th) and Calcutta, 23rd, Rowe said.

The digitisation effort was not restricted to India but would extend across the full footprint of the PAS-10 satellite's BBC World South Asia feed, Rowe said. This would cover Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Middle East, Bhutan and Bangladesh, Rowe said.

On the distribution front, Richie said BBC World reached 11 million households in India. Worldwide, BBC is received as a 24-hour service in 81 million homes.

An important area where attention is paid is distribution in hotels. BBC World is available in over 55,000 hotel rooms around the world and there is a a separate person dedicated to ensuring that BBC World "is received in all the major hotels in the region," Richie said.

Queried as to why BBC hadn't considered a free-to-air encrypted feed, Rowe said: "BBC's philosophy for India is we want as many people as possible to view our channel. We don't want to restrict it any way?" Richie replied in the negative when asked whether there were any possibilities of BBC allying with a bouquet or channel. "Our principle objective is to make sure there is a smooth transition from analog to digital and to hold on to the distribution numbers that we have. We haven't considered at this stage tying up with any of the other players in the marketplace."

Technical Specifications Post Digitalisation

Satellite: Panamsat PAS-10

Transponder: 14C

Downlink Polarisation: Vertical

Downlink Frequency: 3970 MHz

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