Regulators

I&B, BIS officials to meet 20 August to discuss DTH set top standards

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NEW DELHI: Officials from the information and broadcasting ministry and the Bureau of Indian Standards are slated to meet on 20 August. The agenda: to discuss the standards and specifications for the set-top boxes for direct-to-home TV service on KU band.

According to an I&B ministry official, the meeting is likely to take up the issue of STBs for a DTH service and whether an "open architecture", as being advocated by the government in this regard, will work.

When contacted, BIS officials, while confirming the meting with I&B ministry officials, however, refused to give out any details saying only after the meeting was held could anything further be said.

It may be mentioned here that the BIS is also stipulating the technical standards for the STBs that will be needed if conditional access system is implemented.

Still, industry experts pointed out that the government's stand on insisting on an "open architecture" for a DTH service may not be technically possible as every encryption (of TV signals) is a proprietary technology.

The experts also pointed out that an "open architecture" can be possible in a scenario when all the DTH service providers (if there is more than one in India) go in for a common encryption - a scenario which is highly unlikely as a DTH service is sold to consumers on the basis of exclusive and premium programming which one broadcaster would not like to share with another or the competition. This is also likely to be the message that the BIS would be conveying to the ministry officials during the proposed meting and meetings subsequent to that.

Up till now only two companies have filed applications seeking a DTH licence, almost over 18 months after the government announced the DTH policy guidelines.

The two companies are Space TV, having affiliation with the Rupert Murdoch-controlled Star and Agrani, a satellite company controlled by the promoter of Zee Telefilms, Subhash Chandra.

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