Television

DD may use NSS satellite for DTH

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NEW DELHI: Even as Indian pubcaster Doordarshan is fine-tuning its act to launch its proposed KU-band direct-to-home (DTH) television service via a non-Indian satellite early June, the Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Telefilms is the only private sector broadcaster to have offered at least five of its channels to DD's DTH platform on mutually agreed upon commercial terms.

 

"We are in the process of giving finishing touches to the DTH service, but it does not look like going on air before end of May or early June as the transponders have not been made available to us yet," Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma told indiantelevision.com, adding though an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organisation has been signed for transponder space on Insat satellites.

 

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 market aggressively.



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 indiantelevision.com.



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.

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