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Prasar Bharati DTH moving to pay mode?
New Delhi, JUL 28 (AGENCIES):
Published on 29 Jul. 2009 12:24 AM IST
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At a time when competition in the direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting space is intensifying, public broadcaster Prasar Bharati plans to increase the number of channels on its platform from the current 59 to 198. Also, as against the current model of only free-to-air channels, Prasar Bharati’s DTH platform - DD Direct Plus - will also accommodate 144 pay channels, four hi-definition channels and 50 radio channels with PPP models. The scheme is yet to be approved by the government, according to the Outcome Budget 2009-10 of the information & broadcasting ministry. According to DNA report, the private DTH players include Dish TV, TataSky, Airtel, Reliance, Sun Direct Plus, and Videocon. But the Prasar Bharti is citing “less transponder capacity” for refusing them entry, industry sources have said. The subscriber base of DD Direct Plus is estimated at 60-70 lakh, and many private broadcasters are keen to come on this platform for a wide reach. At present, there is no monthly tariff for watching DD Direct Plus, as opposed to the private DTH service providers. Once DD Direct Plus makes room for private pay channels, it will cease to be a free-to-air platform. Efforts are also on to enhance the transponders’ capacity for DD Direct Plus, to be able to add more channels. The upgradation includes modernisation, augmentation and replacement of satellite broadcast equipment. Prasar Bharati had launched Ku Band transmission (DTH) in December 2004, with a bouquet of 33 TV channels. The main objective of this service was to provide TV coverage in remote areas. Except in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, multi-channel TV coverage is now available across the country. From 33 channels, the capacity of DD Direct Plus was later increased to 50 and then 59 channels. By the year 2015, 40% of the pay TV universe (cable TV and DTH) are likely to be DTH users, up significantly from around 5% now, according to industry projections.

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