Doordarshan, India’s public sector broadcaster, has set aside an amount of Rs. 1209 crore of a total approved outlay of Rs. 1369 crores, just for digitization, as per the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012). According to Ambika Soni, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, the work will involve digitization of existing studios, establishment of digital transmitters, replacement & augmentation of old studio, transmitter & satellite broadcast equipment & setting up of HDTV facilities.
Current State Of Digitization Of Doordarshan; Plans
Doordarshan has exclusive rights to terrestrial broadcasting spectrum in India, and it is expected that digitization will free up spectrum currently used for analog transmission, allowing more channels. There is a possibility that extra spectrum could be used by Doordarshan in a partnership model for revenue generation. The state of digitization of Doordarshan, and plans:
— HDTV Plans: Two HDTV studios will be established by Doordarshan in Delhi and Mumbai, and field production and post production facilities in four metros. The HDTV uplink will be set up at Delhi, and HDTV terrestrial transmitters will be installed in four metros. Remember that Doordarshan expects to broadcast the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi on HDTV.
— Studio Centers: Out of 66 studio centers, 23 centres have either already been digitalized, or are being digitized. 39 studio centers, which are partially digitized or analog are planned to be fully digitized in the 11th Plan (by 2012). The remaining four analog studios are proposed to be digitized in the 12th Plan.
— Digital Terrestrial Transmitters: It is planned to take up 40 locations where analog High Power Transmitters are operational for setting up of Digital terrestrial transmitters (DTT) in the country. 14 obsolete High Power TV transmitters (UPTs) and 60 of Lower Power TV transmitters (LPTs) will be replaced by analog transmitters.
— Satellite Earth Stations will be modernized using Digital Satelliter News Gathering (DSNG) in the 11th Plan.
Its unlikely that Doordarshan will be able to finance the digitization without government support. It has been struggling for profitability, reporting revenues of Rs. 737.05 crores (up 1.74% yoy) for 2008-09, against operating expenses of Rs. 1152.42 crores (up 38.8% yoy)
What About Mobile TV?
However, there is no mention of Doordarshans plans for Mobile TV. MediaNama readers will remember that Doordarshan had floated a tender earlier this year seeking consultants for the preparing a business plan for its Mobile TV services, taking a pragmatic Public-Private-Partnership, revenue sharing approach to the DVB-H plans. However, Soni has makes no mention of Mobile TV plans, and nor has there been an update from Doordarshan on the status of its Mobile TV plans. We’ve written to Doordarshan, and are awaiting a response. According to this tender update on Doordarshans website, the technical bids for DVB-H have been opened (MS Word file).
Remember that Mobile TV, specifically the multicast system (DVB-H, DMB, MediaFLO) that doesn’t ride on telecom networks is important for digital broadcasting, since TV over mobile networks is a unicast (one to one) model that will have limited usage and opportunity: beyond a certain number of users, it will end up choking telecom operator networks, and hence cannot afford mass usage.
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