MUMBAI: Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani has said that public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has finished upgrading DD’s free direct-to-home (DTH) platform Freedish for 104 channels with new compression technology (MPEG 4). Presently, 80 TV channels with existing MPEG-2 technology are operational.
This upgrade has been done in line with the recommendations of Sam Pitroda Committee.
The rollout of MPEG-4 set-top boxes (STBs), which was expected by March end, has got delayed. MPEG-4 STBs will have capacity to carry 104 channels compared to MPEG-2 STBs, which carry only 80 channels.
Responding to a question in Rajya Sabha, Irani further stated that the installation and testing of equipment for implementation of iCAS (Indian CAS) on DD Freedish DTH platform has been completed.
She also said that five Indian STB OEMs have been shortlisted to sell iCAS and DD-approved firmware/middleware-enabled STBs. New STBs with this technology and iCAS will be an integral part of the reception system for MPEG 4 channels.
AIR has replaced 35 MW and one SW valve-based transmitters with digital transmitters (DRM), which are capable of broadcasting in both analogue and digital modes.
Two SW valve-based transmitters are under replacement by digital transmitters (DRM). In addition, six old, high-power MW transmitters serving in LWE-affected areas are being replaced by new state-of-the-art MW digital-ready transmitters for strengthening AIR coverage in LWE-affected areas.
Further, 23 transmitters at 19 locations have been installed. Out of these, 16 transmitters have been commissioned. Their transmission could also be received by existing smartphones/tablets using a dongle with an app.
The resources cell of AIR is actively contributing to expanding the broadcasting market by offering Prasar Bharati infrastructure to private broadcasters/telecom operators, etc. at reasonable rates.
The government had set up an expert committee under the chairmanship of Sam Pitroda on 28 January 2013 to review the institutional framework of Prasar Bharati, including its relationship with the government, its continuing role as a public broadcaster, measures needed to ensure technical upgrading of the organisation and the need for its financial self-reliance to ensure due autonomy.
The committee had submitted its report on 24 January 2014 and recommended framing a long-term vision and strategy for Prasar Bharati that would depend on the technology choices, assessment of human resources, review of programming, including review of existing channels and a study of independent sources of finances for Prasar Bharati.
The committee made 26 recommendations in the critical areas of governance and organisation, funding, human resources, content, technology, archiving, social media and global outreach.