Regulators

I&B ministry discusses DTH set top specifications

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NEW DELHI: Action seems to be happening slowly on the DTH front. Now, the information and broadcasting ministry will prepare a note on set-top boxes for KU-band DTH television services in the country after the merits and demerits of proprietary technology and open architecture were discussed today in a meeting of officials from the Bureau of Indian Standards and the ministry.

According to government sources, today's meeting was a "preliminary one" where additional secretary (broadcasting) of the I&B ministry, Anil Baijal, was the senior most official. The matter is also likely to be discussed with I&B minister Sushma Swaraj before a note is prepared.

After the BIS receives the note from the I&B ministry, which will also keep the existing guidelines on DTH in mind, the matter of open architecture vs proprietary technology will be referred to a BIS committee on radio communication for the viewpoint of BIS.

The BIS committee on radio communication, which will debate and formulate the official BIS response on set-top boxes for DTH issue, comprises representatives from media companies like Star, cable operators and is headed by the chief engineer of All India Radio.

Though the existing DTH guidelines, announced late 2000, mandates that any DTH service provider must go in for open architecture, the broadcasting lobby has been insisting on the fact that there is no such thing called open architecture and any DTH service draws subscribers for showing premium products for which common encryption is not possible.

Even after over 18 months since the time the government announced the guidelines on DTH in India, only two companies have filed for licence with the I&B ministry. The companies are Space TV (a Star affiliate) and Agrani, a satellite company promoted by the chairman of Zee Telefilms, Subhash Chandra.

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