NEW DELHI: As the government clearance is yet to come for boosting the capacity of DD Direct Plus, the pubcaster has issued disconnection notices to seven channels to make place for the high definition (HD) channels that were launched to coincide with the Commonwealth Games.
The country’s only free-to-air DTH platform has a capacity of 59 channels while it beams 57 TV channels, apart from 21 channels of All India Radio. The TV channels include 21 Doordarshan channels.
Meanwhile, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (Tdsat) will hear on 9 December a plea by Zee Turner, owner of Zee Cinema, challenging the disconnection notice.
Zee Turner has submitted before Tdsat that the state-owned direct to home (DTH) service provider Prasar Bharati has threatened not to carry its channel but has not given the mandatory 21 days time.
Prasar Bharati has issued notices threatening to disconnect carriage signals of Zee Smile, Zee Jagran and ETC Music– all Zee Turner channels– from 28 November.
Senior counsel Maninder Singh appearing for Zee Turner submitted that Prasar Bharati has threatened to stop transmission of its channels though it has paid Rs 8 million as enhanced annual carriage charges. He also sought directions to Prasar Bharati for carrying Zee Turner’s channel on the DTH service on non-discriminatory basis.
DD sources told indiantelevision.com that DD Direct Plus could consider taking back these channels as soon as it is able to augment its capacity to 97 channels in the first phase.
The augmentation of the capacity of DD Direct Plus will cost Rs 554.3 million as part of the 11th Plan scheme. According to the budget approved on 4 August 2010, the augmentation in the first phase will be completed by 31 March 2011.
According to Information and Broadcasting Minister sources, the capacity will increase to 200 by the end of financial year 2011-12.
Earlier, Doordarshan Director General Aruna Sharma told indiantelevision.com that DD was just awaiting the clearance as it was ready with the infrastructure.
DD sources said around 90 television channels by 82 applicants are in the queue for being uploaded on DD Direct Plus. These include some foreign channels.
The oldest of these applications was made on 7 March 2007 while the latest was made on 12 April this year.
Being an FTA channel, DD Direct only has a one-time charge for dish antennae, set top box and installation.
The country has six private platforms that are operational – Dish TV, Tata Sky, Big TV, Sun Direct, Airtel digital TV and Videocon D2H.