MUMBAI: Since inception, DD Freedish has been the only DTH service that hosts free to air (FTA) channels. Boasting 18 million subscribers on the platform, it soon plans to go pay by encrypting signals for its future channels.
With nearly 60 channels in its roster, Freedish plans to encrypt future channels with MPEG-4 compression technology to take it up to 110. Speaking exclusively to indiantelevision.com, Doordarshan deputy director general CK Jain said that the auction for the encrypted channels will happen in November with the commercial roll out of set top boxes (STBs) soon after. “48 channels will be on MPEG-4 and 64 on MPEG-2. Viewers who opt for MPEG-4 STBs will be able to view a total of 112 channels, including the FTA ones,” he said.
The extended version of Freedish will have two streams of MPEG-4 and four of MPEG-2 so that the existing subscribers can continue watching the FTA channels. Currently the DTH service has five transponders on Insat 4B and will be soon getting an additional one, taking its tally to six. “The two encrypted streams will allow us to know definite subscriber numbers,” he adds.
Jain is confident that digitisation drive in phase III and phase IV markets will see households pick Freedish. He is also sure that the plus point would be in the new TV households. The MPEG-4 STBs will be sold at a price higher than the current Rs 1200 for MPEG-2. But Jain says that given an option to watch more channels, he expects people to pick MPEG-4 boxes.
Both the boxes will be available for sale through its distributors. November will see the auction for the 48 encrypted slots. Broadcasters who wish to be on the MPEG-4 bands, will have to undergo the auction, including ones who are also available on FTA.