New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday floated a consultation paper to open terrestrial broadcasting to private broadcasters and develop a roadmap to move to digital terrestrial transmission (DTT). Currently, terrestrial broadcasting is the monopoly of the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, which runs Doordarshan and is an analog service.

Terrestrial television broadcasting is the traditional way of delivering television channels by transmission of TV signals through radio waves. Consumers do not pay for DD’s terrestrial television services.

According to a statement issued by the regulator, the consultation paper aims to examine the feasibility of participation of the private sector in the growth of India’s terrestrial broadcasting ecosystem and to examine probable models for implementation of digital terrestrial transmission services across the country. 

“In digital era, the content and consumption devices are converging and consumers can access multiple TV services on various devices such as mobile phones and other handheld devices along with other services like internet. Terrestrial viewers are deprived of such benefits due to continuation of analog broadcasting services," the statement said.

The regulator added that DTT is an efficient way of utilization of spectrum and it can provide multiple services such as TV channels, mobile TV, radio and other value-added services.

Trai said that the digitization of television content production and advancement of technologies have enabled the delivery of multiple TV channels through alternative platforms such as digital cable TV, direct-to-home (DTH) operators, headend-in-the sky (HITS) networks and internet protocol television (IPTV) operators.

The authority has sought comments from various stakeholders by 22 July and counter comments by 5 August to broadly assess the spectrum utilization for existing and future digital terrestrial broadcasting services. The stakeholders include broadcasters, DTH operators, IPTV operators, HITS operators, multi-system operators, cable operators and subscribers.

India has seven DTH operators, two HITS operators, two IPTV operators 700 multi-system operators (MSOs) and 60,000 cable operators.