| Though Sarma refused to spell out the details of the
transponders, Prasar Bharati sources indicated that DD's DTH services
is likely to be beamed initially via a New Skies Satellites (NSS)-owned
'bird' for which the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is
negotiating for transponder capacity.
This has been necessitated as ISRO does not have additional and
adequate transponder capacity on its exiting satellites, which are
marketed under the brand name Insat. NSS is a Netherlands-headquartered
satellite company and in recent times has been targeting the Indian
DD plans to launch its DTH service with a bouquet of 30-odd channels,
out which 20 would be DD's own, while the rest private ones. The
aim is to make the DD platform attractive enough for viewers by
including some mass-based entertainment channels (like Star Plus,
Sony, Sahara Manoranjan and Zee TV), even though the DTH service
from the pubcaster is primarily targeted at those areas initially
where cable and terrestrial TV signals are difficult to receive.
Though Prasar Bharati has sent feelers to private broadcasters
like Star India and Sony Entertainment TV India, it is Zee Telefilms
that has got back to the pubcaster saying that it is not averse
to offering channels on mutually agreeable commercial terms.
"Prasar Bharati wrote to us and we said five free to air channels
from the bouquet could be made available for DD's DTH service on
commercial terms," a senior executive of Zee Telefilms told
The Zee channels that have been offered --- subject to conclusion
of revenue sharing deals --- include two Etc channels, the newly-launched
religious channel Jagaran, Zee Music and Smile TV (a channel showcasing
comedy-based soaps and films on Zee's own DTH service).
Pointing out that other pay channels like the bouquet flagship
Zee TV could not be offered as DD's DTH platform will not be a paid
encrypted service, the Zee executive added, "If they insist,
we can add Zee News to the offer list."
When asked about Zee's offer, Sarma refused to make any comments,
saying no deals have been signed yet. However in the past, he had
indicated that Zee's Dish TV DTH service has included DD channels
in the package without paying Prasar Bharati any money for the same
--- an issue that he said would be taken up with the Zee management.
targets April launch