New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday proposed a road map for digital terrestrial transmission (DTT) across the country by opening the space to private broadcasters and proposing implementation of the services in three phases by 2023.
In the recommendations submitted to the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, the regulator has proposed the implementation of DTT services in metro cities (phase I) by 31 December, 2019. For cities with a population of more than 10 lakh (according to Census 2011), DTT will be implemented by 31 December 2021, while by 31 December 2023, the regulator has proposed a complete migration from analog transmission across the country.
Currently, terrestrial broadcasting is the monopoly of the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati which runs Doordarshan and is primarily analog. Doordarshan operates DTT service in 16 cities and is further planning to expand it to three new cities by March 2017 and 44 more in the next two years.
The recommendations have been submitted to I&B ministry for approval.
Terrestrial television broadcasting is the traditional way of delivering television channels by transmission of TV signals through radio waves. The DTT model, developed by Doordarshan is an Internet-free broadcast distribution service, through which consumers can receive television channels on the go or at home through television sets, smartphones and tablets—using an application and a dongle specifically designed for the service.
According to the recommendations, the regulator has asked I&B ministry to set up a coordination committee to steer implementation of DTT “to ensure creation of a facilitating environment and timely completion for digitisation of terrestrial broadcasting.”
“Maximum number of DTT providers may be capped at five (one public broadcaster and four private broadcasters) at a particular place as per availability of spectrum,” the regulator said in the statement.
Trai in June 2016 had issued a consultation paper on ‘Issues related to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting in India’, inviting comments from the stakeholders on the existing terrestrial TV broadcasting scenario for implementation of DTT across the country.
Private broadcasters welcomed the move. “It is a huge commercial opportunity waiting to be opened up by the government. Globally, this sector is opened to private players. But in India it is the monopoly of the government,” said an industry executive who did not wish to be identified.
The executive further explained that DTT model will lead to an efficient use of the spectrum and will offer better quality signals in the rural areas without Internet. “Television channels can easily be received on mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices via DTT services without requiring Internet,” the executive said.
Doordarshan’s DTT model currently showcases five of its channels—DD News, DD Bharati, DD National, DD Sports and a regional-language channel or DD Kisan, depending on the area. The model has the capacity to carry 10 channels. The broadcaster plans to spend about Rs320 crore to achieve its targets by 2018.