After DTH, Prasar Bharati now looking to DTT

NEW DELHI: Flushed with the success its free DTH service (over 2.5 million subscribers claimed) is enjoying, national broadcaster Doordarshan is now toying with the idea of starting a mobile digital terrestrial transmission (DTT) to target tour and bus operators.

What’s more, the Maran family-controlled Sun TV group has evinced interest in partnering with Prasar Bharati, which controls DD, in the DTT project so the channel offering could be increased and have variety.


Pointing out that the DTT project could cost up to Rs 120 million, Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma yesterday said, “The board of Prasar Bharati has given a clearance for the DTT project, but it would need a policy okay at the government level.”

Why a government okay?

At present, apart from DD no other player is allowed to broadcast terrestrially and DTT may see the entry of private players too in this domain. The broadcast regulator too has initiated a consultation paper in this regard.

The mobile DTT project, as envisaged by DD, entails providing a number of digital channels on moving vehicles through a small dish with or without help from the private sector. “Ideally, we’d be happy to explore joint ventures, but we could do this on our own too,” Sarma explained.

DD has initiated a pilot mobile DTT project in Chennai, which must have tickled Sun group’s interest in tapping the potential by providing even niche channels as part of this project.

However, it should be mentioned here that DD had earlier commissioned DTT pilot projects in some of the metros that had failed to take off in a big way as the cost to be incurred by a customer would have equaled that of a subsidised DTH service.


Meanwhile, the Prasar Bharati board today also cleared a DD proposal to increase its TV channel offering to 50 from 33 on its DTH platform. The number of radio channels too is slated to go up.

But Sarma clarified that no private sector pay channel would be on the DD Direct Plus platform, which may start charging carriage fee from TV channels on board. “The success of the DTH service may encourage us to seek carriage fee in the range of RS 9-10 million per channel per year,” the CEO said.

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