The Prasar Bharati board has approved the proposal and the ministry has decided to carry out an e-auction for prospective bidders next month, to ensure complete transparency.
Doordarshan is the world’s largest terrestrial broadcaster with over 1,400 terrestrial TV transmitters located throughout the country covering approximately 90 per cent of India’s geographical area.
A top official of the ministry said a large number of broadcasters, including some which were very popular and were available as pay channels, were interested in airing their programmes through DTH. “About 150 channels which include many news channels are already in line and desperately waiting for the e-auction,” sources said.
The channels are keen on broadcasting through DTH because of its reach across the country. There are about eight million DTH users across the country and the number is growing by about one million households every year.
The low cost of distribution is one reason why many popular television channels are interested in airing their programmes through Doordrashan’s DTH platform.
A channel had to invest about Rs.70 crore annually to air its programme at the national level. Through Doordarshan DTH, the cost would come down to Rs. 2 to 3 crore to reach millions of DTH users, sources said.
Officials in the ministry said “We have targeted to air 400 channels through DTH by the end of 2012.”
Currently, the various direct to home (DTH) service providers —Tata Sky, Dish TV, Reliance Big TV among others — offer various bouquets of free and paid channels, at varying costs. “Once 200 channels are available through DTH, the consumer will be able to view many popular channels just making a one-time expenditure of Rs 1,500,” an official said.