DD looks to launch DTH in third week of June

NEW DELHI: India's pubcaster Doordarshan, looking at launching a direct-to-home (DTH) television service in the third week of June, is hopeful that most of the popular free to air channel would join the platform as it would give them additional reach.

What's more, according to Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma, the private satellite channels that join DD's proposed KU-band venture would also be allowed to carry the advertisements booked by them without any financial obligation to DD.

Speaking to indiantelevision.com, Sarma said that formal letters from Prasar Bharati, that manages DD, would be going out in a day or two to the free to air channels. He is also hopeful that private satellite channels would come on board to get additional reach as DD proposes to distribute set-top-boxes for the DTH service free in those areas where cable or terrestrial TV's penetration is low.

However, Star is not a likely candidate to be part of DD's DTH service, despite the fact that it is launching a new FTA channel later this month, called Star Utsav.

Star has not been party to (initial) meetings (on DTH), Sarma was candid enough to admit, but pointed out that Zee Telefilms had offered some channels for the DTH service.

DD is setting up a DTH service at a total cost of Rs 5 billion to be spent over a period of five years. The Planning Commission-sanctioned project is primarily aimed at covering those areas of the country that cannot be reached through terrestrial TV transmission of DD. Moreover, had DD gone in for such a terrestrial transmission, it would have been a heavily costly affair. Compared to that investment, the project cost for DTH is almost peanuts.

Pointing out that DD would be unable to go in for a revenue share at the moment with those private satellite channels that come on board the DTH platform, Sarma said, "As our subscription management system gets established over a period of time, we may work out financial arrangements with private TV channels."

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.

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