'Official launch of DD's DTT operations by June'

National broadcaster Doordarshan expects to officially launch digital terrestrial transmission (DTT) in the four metros of Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai by June.

According to Girish Chandra Rai, superintending engineer, Mumbai Doordarshan Kendra, currently transmission on DTT mode in New Delhi on an experimental has been on since the first week of April. Rai said the official launch of DTT services would only be made when all the four metros were deemed to be ready to start operations and not before.

Rai said the work of putting up transmitters had been completed in all four metros. Now all that was needed was to get the systems electronically integrated. Rai said the transmitters had been sourced from Japan while the encoders were purchased from the UK.

The project, which initially will cover just the four metros, is expected to cost Rs 300 million. Bangalore and Pune are next on the launch map, in addition to other cities, which are in the process of being identified. Rai said that DTT service would be launched with five channels DD1, DD2, DD Sports, DD Bharati and one regional DD channel (eg. in Mumbai it would be DD Sahyadri).

Rai said that DD was hoping that with private participation this number would go up finally to 15 to 20 channels.

Queried as to the cost of DTT set top box (or converter), Rai said what was available in the market currently varied between Rs 3,500 and Rs 5,000. When the poser was put to him as to why DD was looking at DTT at all considering the costs Rai said: "The world over they are talking of a total shutdown of analog by 2012." In India, it might take a while longer than that but it would happen, Rai said.

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