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India's public-sector broadcasting to be fully digitised

02 February 2010

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The ministry for information and broadcasting has announced the plan to digitise broadcasting services of Doordarshan and All India Radio. The government is also finalising FM Radio Phase III policy, so that community radio services reach people in North East, J&K, and island territories.

New Delhi: The government is working to ensure that at least 4000 Community Radio stations are operational in the next three years, Information and Broadcasting minister Ambika Soni said on Friday, reiterating that community radio reaches people at the macro level to understand and resolve their problems.

Image credits: Sandeep Saxena/ Hindu/ Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and B.S.Lalli, CEO, Prasar Bharati at the inauguration of International Conference and Exhibition on Terrestrial and Satellite Broadcasting in New Delhi

She also announced that the government was in the process of finalising the FM Radio Phase III policy soon.

She said this was being done “with a view to incentivise the introduction of FM radio services in the North Eastern States, Jammu and Kashmir, and island territories, and to further liberalise the regulatory framework to provide for greater diversity of content and bring down operational costs”.

Inaugurating the annual BES Expo 2010 organised by the Broadcast Engineers Society (India), she said broadcast engineers must play a crucial role in guiding the best possible options in the carriage of the content to the public, acknowledging that technology is clearly a growth driver for many an innovation in Broadcast sector.

She also urged broadcasters to ensure that fruits of new technology actually reach the consumer.

The theme of 16th International Conference and Exhibition on Terrestrial and Satellite Broadcasting was ‘Broadcasters and new Media Technologies’ and concluded on 31 January.

Referring to the role of the Government, she said the endeavour of her ministry is to ensure that policy framework and business models are in sync to cater to the consumer interest. “We are guided by the thought that technology neutral approach to policies is the appropriate way. Convergence in technology has to fast become a reality.”

The minister also announced that serious thought was being given to devise suitable policies for mobile television. She emphasised that the government was committed to technological improvement/digitalisation of the DD network to improve the viewing experience.

As the official broadcaster for telecast of the Commonwealth Games 2010, it would ensure High Definition Television is in place.

She added that digitalisation of the Broadcasting Services of Doordarshan/All India Radio and Cable Services is one of the key thrust areas identified by the Ministry because of the “advantages digital mode offers in terms of efficient utilisation of available spectrum, better quality of picture and services, various interactive and niche services and transparency above all.”

She noted that the trend worldwide has been to fix sunset dates for complete switch off of analogue services. “While India as yet has not declared any sunset date for complete migration, it is now being increasingly felt that by 2017 we should also aim for complete switchover”, the Minister stated.

Distributing the annual BES Awards for Best Technological innovations, Soni called upon the broadcasting industry to contribute not just in statistical figures for the economy but also contribute to a healthy socio-cultural growth of the society as a whole.

Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer B S Lalli said there had been immense growth in both radio and television in the country, with over 500 TV channels and around 250 FM radio channels at present.

The international Expo and Conference proposes to discuss topical issues such as ‘innovative technologies for coverage of Commonwealth Games, HDTV and beyond; New technologies for Digital TV and Radio; Frequency Spectrum related issues under the theme of ‘Broadcast regulatory Issues’.

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