CCEA okays DD's DTH foray; sanctions Rs 1.65 bn assistance

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today evening okayed pubcaster Doordarshan's forays into KU-band direct-to-home (DTH) television service and gave a nod to government assistance amounting to Rs 1,650 million in the first phase.

The assistance, according to government officials, would be disbursed over a period of three years starting the current financial year.

DD's DTH service, which is slated to be launched around April next year, would not cost the subscriber any monthly subscription The one-time cost of installation of hardware would be approximately Rs 6,000, which is also expected to come down to Rs 3,000 as the service gains popularity, government officials said.

According to Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma, "We are happy that the government has approved the DTH proposal and we are on the road to launch the service by April."

The CCEA also approved, in principle, a proposal that after three years DD can "go pay" with its DTH service to generate additional revenue for keeping up the service. By "going pay", it means that the subscribers would have to pay a monthly subscription for the service as they would pay for any other DTH service in the country.

Initially DD’s DTH platform would have 30 channels with 20 of them being DD’s and the remaining free-to-air (FTA) satellite channels. "Many FTA channels have evinced interest to be on our DTH platform," Sarma said.

The transponders on INSAT satellite has already been leased and the uplink infrastructure is expected to be ready by early next year. To cater to people not serviced by cable or terrestrial television services, DD’s DTH service would target the remote and hilly areas, but that would not mean neglecting urban and semi-urban areas.

DD also plans to distribute 10,000 TV sets and dish antennas free of cost to public institutes like village panchayats initially.

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