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Next FreeDish auction after MPEG4 operationalisation

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NEW DELHI: With MPEG4 under final trials and existing channels having received extensions for their licences, the next e-auction of Doordarshan FreeDish will only take place around February 2017.

Doordarshan had, early last month, formally announced that its free-to-air direct-to-home (FTA DTH) platform was capable of carrying 104 television channels and 24 channels would be added to the existing 80 channels after the launch of MPEG4 technology.

While three new channels were added in an auction held over two days in mid-October, 24 got their year-long extensions. DD officials also confirmed that FreeDish will soon be capable of carrying up to 250 channels.

In line with the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’, DD has decided to implement Indian CAS (iCAS) on DD FreeDish Platform. iCAS (which is an initiative of the central government) is being introduced in 24 MPEG-4 channels. The introduction of iCAS will provide enhanced viewing experience.

DD officials said these additional 24 MPEG-4 SDTV channels will be available to viewers in FTA mode. The existing viewers will continue to get 80 SDTV channels, but will have to obtain iCAS-enabled authorised set-top boxes for accessing all 104 channels.

Although FreeDish will remain free to air with no monthly or periodic fee, the viewers will be required to register with DD FreeDish on getting the new STB from Doordarshan authorised STB dealers.

Slots on DD FreeDish are allocated to private channels through a transparent system of e-auction. DD earned Rs 980 million in 2014-15, Rs 1800 million in 2015-16, and Rs 1040 million till September in 2016-17. The 31st auction brought Rs 1293 million (Rs 129 crore ) last month.

FreeDish was launched with a modest bouquet of 33 channels in December 2004, and now carries eighty TV channels and 32 radio channels. This includes 22 Doordarshan channels and two parliamentary channels.

DD officials said implementation of iCAS and authorisation of STB original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) by Doordarshan will give a major thrust to ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’. At present, a majority of STBs are imported. However, the introduction of iCAS will help in standardization of STBs and encourage quality STB manufacturing in India.

Also read:   FreeDish ready to beam 104 TV channels; 24 on MPEG4

Three new TV channels join DD FreeDish bouquet; 24 get extension

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