Prasar Bharati mulls own OTT platform

Under BIND scheme, the 28 regional Doordarshan channels would become HD programme production capable, and FM coverage of AIR would be expanded to over 80% of country’s population

Updated - January 06, 2023 10:46 pm IST

Published - January 06, 2023 06:43 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prasar Bharati, for which the Centre had recently approved the Broadcast Infrastructure Network Development (BIND) scheme with an outlay of ₹2,539.61 crore, for the upgrade and expansion of broadcasting infrastructure till 2025-2026, is evaluating the possibility of coming up with an over-the-top (OTT) platform.

Last year, the public broadcaster had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Yupp TV, an OTT platform, owing to which DD India is now accessible in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. The channel is currently available in more than 190 countries via multiple platforms.

Under the BIND scheme, Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Gaurav Dwivedi on Friday said, the 28 regional Doordarshan channels would become HD programme production capable, and FM coverage of the All India Radio (AIR) would also be expanded to over 80% of the country’s population.

“The plan includes priority projects of the AIR and Doordarshan with a focus on the expansion and strengthening of the FM radio Network and Mobile TV production facilities amounting to ₹950 crore, which are to be completed on fast-track mode,” he said.

Over 8 lakh free DD DTH receiver sets would be distributed as part of the plan to widen Prasar Bharati’s reach in the Left-wing extremism-affected border and strategic areas, besides aspirational districts. High-quality content for both domestic and international audience would be provided and the capacity of DTH platform upgraded to accommodate more channels. The DD Free Dish capacity would be expanded from the existing 116 to about 250 channels. It has an estimated 4.30 crore connections, making it the largest DTH platform in India.

As part of the BIND scheme, the AIR FM coverage in the country is projected to increase from 58.83% to 66.29% in terms of geographical area. The aim is to enhance the FM reach to 63.02% from the existing 48.27% at the Indo-Nepal border and from 62% to 76% along the Jammu & Kashmir border. A 20-kW FM transmitter will also be installed atop a 300-metre tower in Rameswaram to cover an area of 30,000 sq.km.

Upgradation as 24-hour channels

The Doordarshan Kendras in Vijayawada and Leh would be upgraded as 24-hour channels. This apart, 31 regional news units would be upgraded and modernised with the latest equipment for efficient news gathering. Earth stations would either be upgraded or replaced at the centres in Guwahati, Shillong, Aizawl, Itanagar, Agartala, Kohima, Imphal, Gangtok and Port Blair for uplinking HDTV channels.

The public broadcaster also plans to induct new technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality for visually enriched programme content generation.

The AIR has 501 broadcasting centres with 122 medium wave, seven short wave and 524 FM transmitters, giving world services, neighbourhood services, 43 Vividh Bharati channels, 25 Rainbow channels and 4 FM Gold channels. Doordarshan has 66 centres that produce 36 channels, disseminated via various platforms such as cable, DTH, IPTV “NewsOnAIR” mobile app and various YouTube channels.

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