I&B not for private news channels on DD DTH platform

NEW DELHI: DD Direct Plus, the Indian pubcaster's proposed KU-band direct-to-home television service, just can't seem to get going.

Assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, the information and broadcasting ministry is having second thoughts on allowing private sector satellite-delivered news channels on Doordarshan's DTH platform.



A source in the ministry did admit that there is a school of thought within the government that feels having other news channels like BBC, CNN and even domestic ones like Aaj Tak and Zee News would undermine DD News' position.

"If at all there has to be a news channel on the platform, it should be Doordarshan News," the ministry source said. But the real reason for the government developing cold feet on private news channels' presence on the yet-to-be-launched DD Direct is the fear that critical news reports about the government on the pubcaster's platform may not go down well with the political bosses.

Another source in Prasar Bharati, which manages DD, indicated that this was one of the reasons why the I&B ministry has not yet given the final nod for the launch of DD Direct that has been in the making for over six months now.



It is pertinent to mention here that Prasar Bharati officials have been tom-tomming the fact that 23-odd private sector TV channels have agreed (in principle) to be on DD Direct Plus, which would go a long way in enhancing the commercial feasibility of such a project.

The channels that had agreed to join the free-to-air DTH platform, according to Prasar Bharati, included BBC, CNN, Aaj Tak, Zee News, Star Utsav and a clutch of South Indian language channels.

No wonder then that a board meeting of Prasar Bharati yesterday in Bangalore did touch upon the DTH issue.

Earlier, Prasar Bharati had, reportedly, demanded approximately Rs 600,000 from private sector channels as carriage fee to be on the DTH platform. Total lack of interest shown by satellite channels, especially the mass

entertainment channels like Star Plus, Zee TV, Sony, Sahara One and Sab TV, resulted in Prasar Bharati backing down and offering carriage without any money.

With the government and Prasar Bharati not offering a definite date on the launch of DD Direct Plus, the latest joke doing the rounds in DD is that it's like waiting for Godot.

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