Television

Prasar Bharati eyes wider reach for DD India via international satellites

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NEW DELHI: After revamping its other channels and its website, Doordarshan is now working towards not just revamping its international channel DD India, but to increase its reach.

Prasar Bharati sources said that efforts were being made to distribute DD India Channel globally. Doordarshan has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Asian Television Network, Canada, for distribution of five DD channels in Canada. Additionally, Doordarshan has granted permission to Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation for distribution of six DD channels in Mauritius.

The pubcaster has also signed an MOU with Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany for distribution of DD India channel through EUTELSAT’s Hotbird 13B satellite on barter basis, which will ensure Doordarshan will become available for the first time in the direct-to-home in a Free-to-Air basic package mode in the whole of Europe and in Arab countries with DD Freedish coming on air on EUTELSAT's Hotbird 13 B satellite.



 

DW will provide Prasar Bharati with a satellite capacity of 2 Mbit/s on Hotbird for the transmission of DD India signal. DD India will be available in a basic package and will be without any subscription. It will also provide the signal to DW or any other recipient determined by DW in a form suitable for receipt and transmission. DD will be responsible for the cost of delivery of the signal to DW in Germany and all cost associated with such delivery shall be paid by Prasar Bharati to the DW Licensee in India, Cabsat Channels Pvt. Ltd.

Cabsat is willing to arrange to collect the signal of DD India from the Indian satellite and arrange for the provision of the Signal to DW in Germany, and invoice Prasar Bharati accordingly.



 

This will help the public broadcaster project India’s viewpoint to the global audience in a cost effective manner. DD will be offered in the basic package of the DTH service, which does not require any individual to either subscribe to it or to pay for viewing the channel.



 

Prasar Bharati sources said the offer by DW has extremely favourable terms and DD India does not even require a license immediately. The license can be obtained within a period of one year if the experiment is successful.



 

DD currently has a budget of Rs 2 - 3 crore per year for production of programmes, which has to go up and so other Ministries pool in their resources/content for quality programmes for the viewership abroad. Programming will be mainly accessed from archival material and current programmes, apart from some live and deferred live programmes. The programming, which was mostly in English and Hindi, may have subtitling where necessary.



 

As of now, Indian satellites carrying DD signals reach around 34 countries.



 

While the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is coming on board DD Freedish, France was proposing to beam to India via an Indian satellite.



 

DW beamed to the world in four beams: English, German, Arabic and Spanish. Asia was reached through the Asiasat I satellite.



 

The five broad regions to be covered are Central Asia, Middle East or West Asia, East Europe, West Europe and North Africa. The programmes would primarily target different cultures, keeping in mind the different languages of the regions like Turki, Persian, Arabic and French, with English being reasonably the lingua franca. The programmes for the target audiences would be decided in consultation with the concerned Ministries who have experience and expertise in the various fields, and assessing the cultural and political sensitivities of the areas.



 

Programmes of private programmes will continue to be broadcast with their own view point of India. It all depends on their interest about presenting the picture of India. They are promoting the issues of India from the view point and interest of audiences. Programmes palatable to one region may offend sensibilities elsewhere, which would have to be of prime concern while producing them.

Since 1995, Doordarshan has been trying to build bridges of communication with Indians living abroad and also trying to showcase its diverse culture, values and rich heritage to the world by launching its first international channel.



 

Upon the expansion of this International Channel into 24x7 transmission, Doordarshan signed an agreement with Pan Am SAT (later Intelsat Inc.) for achieving global footprint of its international channel in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America by placing it on ‘C’ & ‘KU’ band of IS-10 , IS-906 and G-13 satellites.



 

In 2011, the services provided by Intelsat were dispensed with and the contract was terminated.



 

From March 2011, Doordarshan started availing of the service of ISRO's INSAT-4B in both KU band & C band. However, the inadequacy of not being able to locate any significant global partners to distribute and connect DD to homes overseas continued.



 

In the past also DD did make efforts to distribute its international channel in various parts of the world but made little progress in the last mile distribution due to policies, which did not permit large scale spending on carriage fees.



 

Doordarshan made renewed efforts through Indian Missions to distribute its international channel abroad, but it could make little progress in this last mile distribution due to several reasons. However, significant local partners could not be located to distribute and connect DD to homes overseas continued.



 

Hotbird-13B is the most chosen satellite by European countries because of its polarity. It has a reach of 120 million homes in the whole of Europe, Northern Africa and the whole of Middle East. It is an extremely popular DTH platform in Europe and this platform was the logical choice for DD India to launch its overseas services afresh.

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