NEW DELHI: The Indian government is exploring possibilities of throwing open the digital terrestrial transmission or DTT services for private sector participation.
Broadcast carriage and telecoms regulator TRAI is poised to start a public consultation in this regard soon.
Presently, terrestrial transmission, analogue or digital, is a monopoly game with India’s pubcaster Doordarshan being the only player.
A senior level source in Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) admitted that in near future DTT could see involvement of private sector companies as seen in the area of cable and satellite broadcasting.
The MIB source also pointed out that in this connection TRAI has already been consulted and the regulator is in the process of fine-tuning a background paper on DTT that will form part of the consultation with industry stakeholders.
Some of the issues that could be put up for discussion include whether it’s correct in this age of fast-evolving technology to keep DTT a playing arena for only DD; whether DTT services with private sector involvement would be in an encrypted or unencrypted form and technologies to be used.
Quite a few Asian countries like Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore --- considered more sophisticated media markets in terms of ARPUs in comparison to India --- have private sector companies providing DTT services.
According to ViaSat magazine, telco PCCW, for example, in Hong Kong recently announced launch of a new set-top box (STB) that will be an all-in-one, 4K-ready device providing IPTV, DTT and over-the-top (OTT) services to subscribers.
However, it must be remembered that even if TRAI comes out with a consultation paper on DTT and finally recommends that private sector companies be allowed to provide DTT services, along with DD, the final say on the matter would be with MIB.
In an earlier story Indiantelevision.com had reported that DD, one of the largest broadcasting organisations in the world in terms of the studios and transmitters, has commenced DTT services in 16 cities.
DD move to also replace its analogue transmitters with digital transmitters will allow up to 8 channels to be carried from a single transmitter.
Interestingly, while listing the many advantages of DTT services, Doordarshan on its website points out that “DTT secures greater plurality in Platform ownership, ensuring that no single platform owner is so powerful that they can exert undue influence on public opinion or political agendas.”
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