DD's DTH plan awaits government nod

NEW DELHI: Indian pubcaster Doordarshan's KU-band television services foray, it seems, hinges on the government okaying a proposal to allow private satellite channels to come on the DTH platform free of any charge.

Fazed by the lack of interest shown by a large number of popular TV channels, DD had said that it would not charge any carriage fee to private broadcasters who join DD's DTH service, called DD Direct Plus.

However, it now transpires that for this to happen, a government nod is needed because this could mean changes in the original cabinet note on the basis of which the previous government had cleared financial aid to the KU-band project.

According to a source in Prasar Bharati, which looks after DD and sibling All India Radio, "The original cabinet note on DTH had mentioned that a certain charge would be levied on private channels as carriage fee for those that would agree to come on board. Even for a waiver of this condition, a government okay is needed and it is being awaited." Interestingly, the whole game plan involving DD's DTH forays seems to be flawed, including the communication strategy, and this is being increasingly realized in Prasar Bharati, whose secretariat is finding itself helpless as various regional centres of DD have been announcing DTH plans without co-ordination.

"We understand that there is a flaw in the strategy as various regional kendras (centres) are announcing that they are launching DTH services. How can regional centres launch a DTH service? What was originally planned that each regional centre would do its bit to create the hype for the DTH service. But now, it seems, every centre is communicating the wrong things to the media," the Prasar Bharati source said.

What is the information and broadcasting ministry doing on DD's much-hyped-but-still-to-be-seen DTH service? Ministerial sources said that the file is being studied as the government would like to wait and see if the broadcast and cable regulator recommends, as part of an overall report, that all TV channels must be made available to all platforms on a non-discriminatory basis, including DTH.

Since July, DD has been heavily advertising on its network that its DTH service was to be launched soon. As of today, no final date has been fixed for the formal launch. The last date that Prasar Bharati was looking at was 15 September, which has come and gone.

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