New Delhi: State broadcaster Doordarshan is planning to encrypt free-to-air (FTA) signals for its direct-to-home (DTH) platform DD Free Dish, starting April.
The broadcaster has already floated a tender for offering ‘security-locked’ set-top-boxes across the country and is in the process of evaluating the responses.
“We are in the process of bringing new technology. Currently, our set-top boxes are not encrypted. Therefore, the free-to-air signals can be decoded by other platforms easily,” said Supriya Sahu, director general at Doordarshan, adding that the new technology will help the broadcaster track the set-top boxes and subscribers.
DD Free Dish currently carries 80 channels including private entertainment channels like Star Utsav, Sony Pal, Viacom18’s Rishtey and Rishtey Cineplex as well as news channels like Aaj Tak, ABP News and News 24, among others.
Private television broadcasters on Free Dish will have a two-fold advantage with the DTH platform encrypting its signals.
Firstly, encryption means that Free Dish will be able to identify its subscribers which currently go unmapped. This will benefit private channels which can sell these subscription numbers to advertisers and improve their revenue.
Secondly, it means that signals of private broadcasters will not be stolen by unauthorized operators. An executive from one of the leading private broadcasters who declined to be named, said that it will be helpful for the channels if DD Free Dish signals are encrypted. “When private channels share sports-feeds with Doordarshan, unauthorized operators pirate the signals because these are unencrypted. Plus, the public broadcaster itself will be able to track the number of subscribers and set-top boxes seeded across the country,” the executive said.
DD Free Dish is also planning to add 24 new channels to the platform this year, taking the total channel count to 104. Free Dish currently has 25 Doordarshan channels, including the official Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha channels. The broadcaster is also hoping to set up a customer care service for DD Free Dish