Plan panel moots spread of TV, radio to uncovered areas

NEW DELHI: The Planning Commission, part of the Indian government, has suggested in its approach paper to the 10th five-year plan (2002-07) coverage of television and radio services to the remaining uncovered parts of the country, particularly in the north-eastern states, border/hilly terrain and sparsely populated areas must be taken up and should be part of the actionable points for the 10th Plan.

The information and broadcasting sector's outlay for the 10th plan period has been pegged at Rs 51.3 billion.

The plan paper also says that digitalisation of broadcasting equipment and automation of production and transmission facilities besides replacement and completion of continuing schemes undertaken during the 9th Plan should be undertaken.

As part of its other actionable points or the 10th Plan, it has been pointed out that apart from optimal utilisation of the I&B, communications and IT sectors, the government should work towards removing the digital divide between the poor and rich.

"Encourage training with vision to develop human resources to keep pace with technological changes and new challenges arising thereon," the Plan paper states.

As part of the new initiatives, the Plan paper says that adoption of new technologies that enable increased and improved access to public and private broadcasters affordable for the common man should be encouraged.

It has also been said that the government should make an effort to encourage setting up of low power community radio stations in FM mode by local communities and non-profit organisations such as universities and NGOs for educational, cultural and economic and developmental purposes.

That the Plan panel has suggested relaxation of the present 20 per cent cap on investments by media companies in a DTH venture to attract more private players is a well documented and reported fact. Last heard the government is said to be still studying this part of the suggestion on DTH.

Interestingly it has been pointed out by the Plan panel that since expansion of coverage by terrestrial network for the uncovered areas would be quite expensive, particularly in the sparsely populated areas, alternate cost effective technologies should be looked into - technology like digital distribution of TV and radio signals in KU-band, a frequency in which normally DTH television services work round the world.

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