Television

Pubcaster DD does high definition twist

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MUMBAI: The Marathi TV creative community in Mumbai was excited last month. The reason: pubcaster Doordarshan flagged off a high definition (HD) production studio at its Mumbai kendra. Set up at a cost of Rs 18 crore, the studio has already started producing music programs, plays, series and shows such as Aaj Che Dawedaar Uddyache Super Star and Dhina Dhin Dha which come on DD Sahaydari.



Mukesh Sharma says that the broadcaster is moving towards an HD world

While this is great, says a media observer, it is a case of putting the cart before the horse as DD has no HD transmitters. The net result: it has been downgrading the programs to standard definition (SD) for terrestrial and satellite telecasts of DD daily.

Agrees DD Sahyadri Additional director general (programming) Mukesh Sharma adding that the studio will only be used for HD content production. “We are looking at changing and adapting to HD and this is the first stage,” says Sharma.

The Mumbai HD set includes six new Ikegami HD cameras, Dolby surround system, new microphones, a Kayak switcher as well as a new post production set up for editing. The system integration for the approximately 900 sq metre of an old studio in the new DD building in central Mumbai was done by Shaf Broadcast. The pub-caster currently has plans to upgrade its old world SD transmission network to HD over the next few months. Reports are that some 10 terrestrial HD TV channels are on the anvil.



It says it does not want to wait until it starts transmitting in HD; it would rather build its program catalogue in HD now for future exploitation. We are going to have more studios in metros like Chennai, Bangalore, and Kolkata very soon, added Sharma. The first to come online with its HD set up was Delhi in May 2013.



DD's attempt to adapt to changes by introducing HD systems

Questions are being raised whether DD is doing the right thing migrating to HD? Will it be more money down the drain for a broadcaster which has a mandate of public service? Are private players generating enough excitement amongst media planners to allow them to plonk their advertising dollars on their HD chanels?

"Not really," observes the media observer. "Advertisers are approaching HD channels cautiously. They prefer a shot gun approach on SD channels where they get mass audiences than in a HD service which is being watched by smaller more elite audiences. They obviously are playing safe so far."

NDTV Lifestyle chief executive director Smeeta Chakrabarti too tends to agree. She has been filming the channel's show in HD for a few years now and says advertisers have been chary of parking their bucks there. Says she: “The cost of buying HD equipment is not much higher than normal ones but the cost of broadcasting is not recovered through revenue.”

"I don't know why such a brou-ha-ha is being made about DD moving to HD," says another media observer. "Almost all of the terrestrial broadcasters the world over have made the transition; DD is doing it in its unique fashion like it does so for all its activities. So be it."

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