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May 16, 2002 | 0755 IST
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Digital terrestrial telecast set to be opened up

Bipin Chandran

The government is finalising a policy on digital terrestrial television broadcasting to allow private players in the sector. The move is aimed at giving more options to consumers.

"The government wants to give consumers more options. Apart from the direct-to-home and the conditional access systems, we are also working on a policy for digital terrestrial television," said a government official.

The policy proposes to allow private channels to set up digital terrestrial networks. Digital terrestrial television technology enables the telecast of five channels from a single transmitter and it has better audio-visual quality in comparison with analog transmission.

So far, only Doordarshan was allowed terrestrial telecasting.

"We want to offer multiple technology options to consumers so that they can select the technology of their choice," the official said.

The government wanted the private sector to be part of the effort, the official said, adding that the policy, which was being worked out, would take care of this aspect.

"The policy is expected to be ready soon," the official said. "So far, no private player is using the digital terrestrial television technology, but as and when the policy is implemented, a large number of local channels are expected to avail of the opportunity," he said.

The Prasar Bharati Corporation had launched a pilot project involving the digital terrestrial telecasting in the four metros to generate interest among private players in the technology, the official said.

"The Prasar Bharati initiative is a technology demonstration effort," he said.

According to sources, the corporation is investing about Rs 300 million in four pilot projects that will help in setting up transmission facilities.

It is also purchasing equipment, mainly set-top boxes, to receive signals.

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