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Prasar Bharati – India to focus on transitioning to digital terrestrial signals

As part of the transition to a digital network, Prasar Bharati is looking at phasing out analogue terrestrial signals in 19 cities by this month-end. The Indian public broadcaster has also identified 44 additional cities where it will look at building digital infrastructure by installing digital transmitters.

Speaking on the sidelines of the CII Big Picture Summit, Shashi Shekhar Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharati, said: “In India, so far we had been lagging in digital terrestrial broadcasting space. Prasar Bharati has made a beginning. Today, we have 19 cities where have rolled out digital terrestrial TV signals.” He said in the 19 cities where digital transmitters had been installed, analogue terrestrial signals would be switched off by this month-end.

Asked about expansion of digital terrestrial signals to other cities, Vempati said: “We have identified 44 cities for the next phase. We will focus on installing digital transmitters in these cities in the next couple of years.”

In September, the Prasar Bharati Board had approved the plans for phasing out analogue transmitters for terrestrial broadcast, a move that was considered to be long-pending.

Vempati also talked about the need for a credible global voice that tells India’s story to the rest of the world and represents India’s soft power. “We are already working in the direction. One of the things is that DD News is a bilingual channel and we would move in a direction where we would have a Hindi channel and English channel with a global focus,” he added.

The public broadcaster has already stated its plans to make DD India as its English news channel with a global focus catering to Indian and international viewers. Meanwhile, DD News, which is currently bilingual, is expected to be converted into a Hindi news channel.

Asked about the public broadcasters’ strategy for future auctions of slots on its free-to-air DTH platform Free Dish, Vempati said: “We are working on a new policy. Future auctions will be based on the new formula. We have engaged IIM-Ahemdabad for the same.”