New Delhi, India -- State-run broadcasting company
Doordarshan plans to launch a digital-terrestrial-television service in May. Word of the
service emerged during a talk by Doordarshan's engineer-in-chief, B.K. De, at the
recent Broadcasting Engineering conference held here.
The service will initially be available in the metropolitan
areas of Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Calcutta. According to De, the DTT service will be
utilized to both upgrade existing signals to high-definition television and to offer more
channels to subscribers.
Initially, Doordarshan will offer all 17 of its established
channels on DTT -- 14 or 15 of them have only been available on a regional basis in the
past. When the cost of receivers drops, more services will be added.
Among those new services on the drawing board are sports,
agricultural and educational channels. Doordarshan is also hoping to revive three channels
that it previously dropped, including a highbrow cultural channel and an international
De said Doordarshan chose to use the Digital Video
Broadcasting format. The American ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee)
transmission format had been considered, but it was deemed unsuitable.
Doordarshan expects to spend $US714 million on DTT
equipment over the next five years. It will expand into additional markets with caution.
"We want to first gauge the response [to DTT] in the
metro cities before we proceed to smaller towns," De said. "Each set-top
receiver presently costs [consumers] $US300 apiece. It is only when these receivers are
mass-produced that their price will come down and the average viewer will be able to
Media analysts said the key to the success of the DTT plans
is making set-top boxes affordable.