Television

Prasar Bharati targets 2 million DTH subscribers by end 2005

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NEW DELHI: On the eve of a formal launch of Doordarshans DTH service by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Prasar Bharati said that it has set a target of two million subscribers by end 2005 and increasing channel capacity to 50 by June next.

On the occasion of a demonstration of DD Direct Plus, the brand name under which DD would market its free DTH service, Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma said, By December 2005 we hope to have a subscriber base of two million, which may help the platform net additional private TV channels.

Though he ruled out any private sector pay channels immediately joining DD Direct Plus, he did say that 40-odd free to air TV channels, including German pubcaster DW, standing in the queue having shown interest in joining the DTH platform.

He added, Since we do not have much capacity at the moment to include all TV channels that have shown interest, we have asked Tam to carry out a survey and based on the popularity of a channel, it would be allowed entry on DD Direct Plus."

DD Direct Plus is a free to DTH service offering 32 FTA TV channels, including 13 private ones, and 12 customised radio channels. A subscriber would have to make an one-time investment of Rs, 3,000-Rs 3,500 on the hardware and pay no monthly subscription fee, unlike the countrys first DTH service, marketed by Zee Telefilms under Dish TV brand name.

Sarma was optimistic that there would many takers for this service, as about 45 million TV homes in the country dont have any cable service. In this regard, Prasar Bharati has distributed 10,000 set-top-boxes, free in those states where TV coverage is below the national average.

A higher-end version of the set-top boxes, being manufactured by private companies, do have an option for smart cards in case of pay channels joining DDs DTH platform in future.

The STBs being sold in the market are not branded ones, but Prasar Bharati plans to float a tender inviting interested hardware companies to make Prasar Bharati branded boxes after paying a minimum guarantee on a non-exclusive basis.

DD Direct Plus, beaming through NSS 6 satellite, includes all DD channels, apart from the likes of BBC World, Sun TV, Star Utsav, from the Zee stable Kairali TV, Zee Music and Smile TV, Jain TV, Aaj Tak and Headlines Today. The radio channels include All India Radio channels.

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