Govt. rules out expansion plans for terrestrial network DD

NEW DELHI: In what may be an indication to the slow digitalisation process being set in motion, the government today ruled out further expansion of terrestrial network of pubcaster Doordarshan.

Instead, the KU-band route would be preferred to increase coverage to cover 100 per cent of the population.

New terrestrial transmitters (of DD) are not envisaged to be set up for expansion of television coverage,information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy informed Lok Sabha (Lower House) today in reply to a question whether the government is planning to phase out terrestrial expansion of the pubcasters network.

In this whole plan, the only exception would be the northeastern regions and island territories like Andaman & Nicobar.

At the moment, DDs networks cover slightly over 90 per cent of the Indian population through 25 channels, 1,402 high and low-powered transmitters and putting out 1,485 hours of programming a week.

However, the minister allayed fears that terrestrial transmission of DD would be stopped altogether, which may deprive a vast population of the country from a cheap source of entertainment and information.

The government also expects that the prices of hardware needed for accessing KU-band transmissions would fall from the present Rs. 3,000, which is the price for the equipment to receive DDs direct-to-home television service, DD Direct Plus.

With increase in demand for KU-band systems, the price of these sets is expected to come down further, Reddy informed Lok Sabha, making it clear that there was no compulsion for people to buy DTH hardware as they could continue receiving DD fare via cable and terrestrially too. One of the reasons for the previous Bharatiya JanataParty-led government clearing DDs KU-band project in 2003 was that calculations showed terrestrial expansion of DDs networks would be more costly than taking the KU-band route.

Reddy also informed Parliament that DDs KU-band project was approved at a total cost of Rs. 1,640 million and an expenditure of approximately Rs. 330 million had been incurred till October 2004.


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