Broadcasters not opposed to DTT, but want safeguards

NEW DELHI: Views were sharply divided particularly on the issue of sharing infrastructure during an open house discussion today on a Consultation Paper on "Opening Up Digital Terrestrial Transmission" organised by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

However, broadcasting sector sources said that the stakeholders were in principle not opposed to opening up of digital terrestrial television (DTT). Around 40 stakeholders, a majority of them representing broadcasters, were present at the meet. Unlike previous OHDs held by TRAI, Prasar Bharati was also represented at this meet, since it is the only digital terrestrial transmission stakeholder in the country.

TRAI sources said the objective of the meet was to hear all points of view, though the sources added that the views were by the large the same as expressed in their comments to the paper, which are available on the TRAI website.

The paper by the TRAI was issued on 24 June 2016, about a year after Prasar Bharati – which is the only terrestrial broadcaster in the country – unanimously recommended that DTT should be opened up to the private channels. Apart from Prasar Bharati, several private channels have already responded to the paper, which was followed by a linked paper on sharing infrastructure issued on 21 September 2016.

In its response to the DTT paper, the pubcaster said even as it supports the move, it feels that the potential of available distribution options need to be critically analysed to fulfill their requirements (for example coverage, capacity, reception mode, and type of service etc).

The public broadcaster has also said that the terrestrial broadcast platform will be relevant in the long term if its usage offers veritable benefits to the broadcasters, the audiences and the society as a whole. Even in countries where cable, satellite or broadband hold a significant market share, terrestrial broadcasting is usually regarded as an essential, flexible and reliable way of delivering broadcast content to a mass audience.

In its response to 11 questions asked by TRAI in its Consultation Paper on 'Issues related to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting in India,' the pubcaster says that the terrestrial platform must be digital to remain viable in the long term.

Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar, who had told in an interview earlier that it had cleared DTT for the private sector more than a year ago, said at the recent Indian Digital Operators Summit (IDOS) in Goa that it was willing to give its infrastructure to the private TV and radio channels.

Also read:  Opening DTT to private sector; discussion planned

Also read:  IDOS 2016: Prasar Bharati could share infra with private players: Sircar

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