DD Free Dish to include more channels in MPEG 2, DD denies glitches in satellite migration

NEW DELHI: Even as the migration to MPEG 4 will commence from April, Prasar Bharati is making attempts to increase the capacity of television channels that can be carried by its free-to-air DTH platform DD Free Dish under the existing MPEG 2.

While declining to give the number of channels that it will gain in MPEG 2, a Prasar Bharati source confirmed to that the switch-over to MPEG4 will be in two phases and the aim was to take the total capacity to 112.

The source confirmed that the channels that bid successfully in the auction being held next week will be accommodated within MPEG 2.

Meanwhile, the source denied any glitches in the transfer of DD Free Dish channels from INSAT 4B to GSAT 15 and said clear guidelines had been given to all channels on the steps they had to take in the regard and the Engineering section of Doordarshan was stepping in wherever needed. The source also said that it had been responding to calls from various channels in this connection.

Asked why the ratings of some popular channels were falling on DD Free Dish, the source added that this was a question best answered by the channels.

The official was reacting to a comment that even after the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India had commenced including rural area ratings in its weekly reports, there had been no perceptible increase in the figures of DD viewership despite claims by the pubcaster that it has the largest viewership in the country.

The source said the popularity of DD Free Dish could be gauged from the fact that Aaj Tak and Big Magic, which are pay channels, were being run as FTA on Free Dish.

A DD source added that the viewership of Big Magic, which had earlier been on Free Dish but had left it early this year had seen a steep fall and the channel had decided to come back on the platform.

DD Free Dish is adopting the conditional access system (CAS) designed by the Bangalore-based ByDesign India Pvt Ltd.

The ByDesign model is totally indigenous and built for DVB-C setup. This CAS solution will enable broadcasters and network operators to control access to their services by viewers, and thereby enabling them to extend their business models to subscription based schemes.

This will mean that the Free Dish will become encrypted but will remain FTA. In addition to helping increase the number of channels on the platform, this will enable Free Dish to gauge the exact number of households relying on Free Dish as encrypted set top boxes will only be available with authorised dealers.

DD Free Dish currently has 64 channels including its own channels and Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha TV. It also carries channels of All India Radio.

The ByDesign CAS is provided by making access possible to the content, depending on subscriber credentials, which are generated by this CAS and sent through the broadcast system to receivers in the field. 

Doordarshan has for the first time made a conscious effort to attract regional television channels by fixing a lower reserve of Rs 2 crore even as the price for the other channels remains the Rs 4.3 crore for its 26th e-auction slated for 15 February.

This has been done considering the tremendous reach of DD Free Dish in semi-urban and rural areas all over the country.

Reserved slot for regional language channel includes only Non-Hindi Channels (News or Non-News). Bhojpuri channels and Hindi regional channels have been kept as part of the general slots.

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