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Business News/ News / India/  Is it time to say goodbye to set-top box?
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Is it time to say goodbye to set-top box?

For an easy access of free-to-air channels, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said the government is planning to set guidelines for TV manufacturers to bring built-in satellite tuner in TV sets

The central government is opting to remove the use of set-top boxes for accessing free channels with the help of built-in satellite tuners (Hindustan Times)Premium
The central government is opting to remove the use of set-top boxes for accessing free channels with the help of built-in satellite tuners (Hindustan Times)

In a bid to end the use of set-top box for viewing free-to-air channels, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry will bring built-in satellite tuner in TV sets, informed the I&B Minister Anurag Thakur on Monday.

He informed that around 200 channels are provided free to viewers. Bringing television sets with built-in satellite tuners would ensure that users are able to access these FTA television and radio channels without set top box. They would only require to mount a small antenna at a suitable place like at the rooftop or side wall of their house. 

While addressing the media, Anurag Thakur informed that there has been a rise in the number of viewers due to the increment in the general entertainment channels on Doordarshan's Free Dish. He also talked about the new initiative of his department to ensure the sale of TV sets with these built-in tuners.

"I have made a new beginning in my department. If your television has a built-in satellite tuner, then there will be no need to have a separate set-top box. One can have access to more than 200 channels at the click of the remote," he said while responding to a question.

He also informed that the decision in the matter is yet to be taken.

Doordarshan has initiated a phase-wise transmission of its free-to-air channels from analog transmission to digital satellite transmission.

Last year, Anurag Thakur had also written to the  Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw requesting him to issue guidelines to the Television sets manufacturers for the adoption of the Bureau of Industrial Standards(BIS)' standards for built-in satellite tuners.

As of now, whether it is a free channel or the paid one, set-top box is a mandatory requirement for viewers to own along with their TV sets. Due to which, people have to purchase a set top box, even if they want to consume only FTA Doordarshan channels (non-encrypted).

Rising popularity of Doordarshan channels

Notably, the popularity of Doordarshan channels have been rising for the last 7-8 years. The number of households having Doordarshan Free Dish doubled since 2015. The Free Dish users increased from 20 million in 2015 to 43 million in 2021, stated a KPMG report.

In the wake of the drastic impact of pandemic on school education, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had directed the beginning of channels for students' education. Hence, SWAYAM Prabha channels were started for students of classes 1 to 12 in record time during the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide access to education to the people living in rural India.

Anurag Thakur also informed that the centre has also asked state governments to begin their own channels separately for educational purposes. As of now there are 55 such channels. He also stated that there has been a rise in the number of general entertainment channels on Free Dish. 

(With agency inputs)

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Published: 14 Feb 2023, 08:37 AM IST
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