DD’s analogue terrestrial TV transmitters to go

City-specific channels now possible

September 28, 2017 09:59 pm | Updated November 11, 2017 05:06 pm IST - New Delhi

The Prasar Bharati last Friday decided to phase out analogue terrestrial television transmitters of Doordarshan and the transition to digital network would open a world of possibilities including, new city-specific DD channels.

In case of analogue transmitters one needs dedicated transmitters for each channel. With digital, one can broadcast as many channels as needed. With Doordarshan’s extensive presence across the nation and the infrastructure, the digitisation could mean it open new channels catering exclusively to cities, informing them about traffic jams, or weather reports, or events or news, all tailored for individual cities. It will also help DD to talk to its audience in their own dialects and connecting with them at a micro level. It will be similar to city-specific radio channels that are airing out of many metros. Very few private television channels have ventured down to this level.

Unique position

“With our national presence, manpower and infrastructure we are in a unique position to enable it,” Prasar Bharti CEO, Shashi Shekhar Vempati, told The Hindu .

This is a long pending move, which, as per Prasar Bharati own deadlines, was to be completed by 2017, but the board dithered on felling the final axe on analogue transmitters.

“World over, broadcasters have moved from analogue to digital. We were the laggards. We have only taken baby steps limited to few cities. Last week, we finally took the call to retire analogue terrestrial transmitters,” Mr. Vempati said.

31 channels

The existing 1412 analogue TV transmitters in India serve about 88% of the population. As on date, Doordarshan is operating 31 channels. There are digital transmitters only in 19 major cities and these too have come up only in last couple of years.

For now, according to the CEO, no deadline has been fixed on when the analogue systems will be entirely phased out. “We will figure out the pace,” he said.

There are operating costs of these transmitters, like huge electricity bills. In case of low powered transmitters, many of them have been put up on real estate that is not owned by DD so there is a huge rental bill.

Financially, the savings are pegged at more than ₹100 crore from this move. Mr. Vempati, however, warns that it will only accrue over the years.

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