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DD tests DTH, plans free-to-air service

Sriram Srinivasan

Chennai , July 9

Doordarshan has begun test transmission of its direct-to-home (DTH) operations, a mode wherein television content is delivered to home via satellites, and will officially launch it in a short while, said Mr R. K. Gupta, Engineer-in-Chief of Doordarshan in Chennai today. It will be a free-to-air service.

Named DD Direct, the DTH service will initially offer 30 channels, 17 of which will be its own. The rest will be private channels, for which DD is in talks with media groups like Sahara and Sun TV, among others, said a source.

The launch date is likely to be mid-August, he added.

According to Mr S. J. D. Devasahayam, Director, Engineering, Doordarshan, 10,000 DTH systems, including the set-top box and the dish antenna, are being installed across the country. In Karnataka, for instance, for which he is in charge of the launch, 700 systems, out of the planned 1,500, have already been installed.

The 10,000 boxes have been procured from two suppliers — MCBS, which has supplied 8,000 boxes, and Bharat Electronics Ltd.

The cable-dry areas, predominantly rural and semi-urban ones, will be the focus of DD's service. According to an estimate, out of the 80 million television owning household population, only around 40 million have access to cable television.

With the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) not having additional transponder capacity in its currently operational satellites, DD has had to opt for space in NSS-6, which is operated by the Netherlands-based New Skies Satellites.

However, it is learnt that DD could well shift to Isro's Insat-4B once it is launched and becomes operational next year.

Once the DTH service is launched, customers would be able to buy the equipment off the shelves.

The Ahmedabad-based MCBS, for instance, is in the process of appointing 75 distributors and 500 dealers across the country, said its Managing Director Mr G. C. Jain. The basic model will be available for Rs 3,500, he said.

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