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I&B Ministry looking at phased roll-out of digital terrestrial TV in tie up with Prasar Bharati

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on January 13, 2021

In the process of finalising the National Broadcast Policy

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is looking at developing a roadmap for ramping up the roll out of Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) in collaboration with Prasar Bharati in a phased manner.

Terrestrial TV broadcasting in India is under the exclusive domain of Prasar Bharati and is mainly being done in analog mode of transmission. Analog terrestrial TV broadcasting is being phased out across the globe due to poor quality of reception and with analog technologies becoming obsolete.

Experts believe digital terrestrial TV will enable better quality of reception, efficient use of TV spectrum and will enable the public broadcaster to provide multiple services including TV channels, mobile TV, radio in the same channel bandwidth ( 7 or 8 MHz) on TV sets as well as on mobile phones and other handheld devices.

According to sources, the Ministry, which is in the process of finalising the National Broadcast Policy, will outline measures for rolling out of digital terrestrial TV and digital radio in consultation with Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd. The possibility of opening digital terrestrial TV to the private sector will also be explored, sources added.

DD is already experimenting with DTT in four metros and seven other tier-1 cities and the government believes that DTT can give a boost to local content and new job opportunities.

Testing options

Prasar Bharati on Wednesday said it is in advanced stages of testing digital technology options for FM radio and a standard for the same will be finalised soon to roll out digital FM radio in India. It also has plans to introduce Digital Terrestrial Radio. Select AIR channels are already available through digital technology to the listeners in many cities/regions on an experimental basis, it added.

Meanwhile, TRAI has already recommended to the Ministry to come out with a digital radio policy for various radio broadcasting bands, including FM frequencies. The Ministry may now look at developing a phased roadmap of a complete switch over to digital radio in the country.

The National Broadcast Policy is expected to outline various measures to fuel the growth of the broadcasting sector in the country and development of a contemporary regulatory framework for the sector, given the emergence of new technologies.

The policy may also look at outlining measures for strengthening self-regulations mechanism in the country. Sources said the government could look at giving statutory recognition to Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) set by Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to look into complaints against content on non-TV news channels. It could also look at a providing similar statutory recognition to News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), which is part of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and looks at complaints against content on news channels.

Consultations on the National Broadcast Policy are on with Prasar Bharati, Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and Ministry of Science and Technology besides other government departments.

NBA and IBF are industry bodies that represent news and non-news broadcasters respectively.

Published on January 13, 2021

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