New Delhi: The direct-to-home (DTH) platform of Doordarshan, which is expected to initially have about 50 free-to-air television channels, will be on 'C' Band and not KU-band as had been expected. The service will be uplinked with the help of the Indian Space Research organisation (ISRO) to an Insat satellite.
DD's DTH service would switch over as soon as possible - may be in a year or so - to Ku-Band, reports an India wire service, United News of India (UNI).
However, as per information available with indiantelevision, something that has been reported earlier also, DD is planning a DTH service so as to cut down on the cost of expanding its terrestrial coverage, including in those remote part of this vast country where it becomes a very expensive proposition to set up either terrestrial or cable television services.
The primary reason for launching in 'C' band is because free-to-air channels are aired on those frequencies and it is difficult at present to switch over to Ku Band that is generally used for DTH, ISRO sources told UNI.
Apart from about 25 channels of Doordarshan, the attempt will be to get as many other private channels on board too.
Interestingly, ISRO also has an agreement with the only other licensed DTH player - the Subhash Chandra-promoted ASC Enterprises. But India's Space Department officials, including ISRO chief K. Kasturirangan, assured information and broadcasting ministry and Doordarshan officials earlier this week that this will not create any problems.
They said that since Doordarshan is a public service broadcaster, it will be given the number of transponders it requires. Those who attended the meeting apart from Dr Kasturirangan included I & B ministry secretary Pawan Chopra, Prasar Bharati CEO K. S. Sarma, and Doordarshan DG S. Y. Quraishi, in addition to Space Department officials.
Though more than 100 transponders are available over the Indian Ocean, ISRO officials said that a C-band transponder can accommodate at the most three to four channels though reception will be good, while each Ku-band transponder can beam up to 10 channels as these are digitized. ISRO assured that Prasar Bharati will not be charged any money for the switch-over since it is a public service broadcaster.
After mulling over the idea for a fairly long time during which ASC Enterprises managed to get its licence, the Prasar Bharati Board in its meeting on 9 April decided to set up its own DTH platform instead of just functioning as a gateway for other players.
Furthermore, Doordarshan had already initiated steps to start a limited DTH under which about 160 villages (twenty in each of the eight states) in the north-east will be provided with a DTH dish and sets to receive DD programmes under the special north-east package announced by the Government more than a year ago.
The plan in the northeast was being executed by the Broadcast Engineering Consultants (India) Limited. Doordarshan DG S. Y. Quraishi had said earlier that the Planning Commission had also approved the proposal by Doordarshan for setting up a DTH platform and a sum of up to Rs 5 billion may be spent over the next five years for this purpose.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that the ASC Enterprises will be encouraged to use the INSAT platform since that will help the government to ensure adherence to the advertising and broadcasting codes, apart from being subject to Indian laws.