The Prasar Bharati board will meet on November 29 to take a decision on including more private channels on Doordarshan’s direct-to-home (DTH) platform. Among other issues, the board is expected to take a call on whether Arabic channel, Al Jazeera, would come on to this platform, sources said. Al Jazeera, which rose to prominence after the 9/11 attack, has written to Prasar Bharati, stating its interest in joining the pubcaster’s DTH.
The total number of TV channels is expected to go up to around 50 on DD’s DTH by the end of this year, sources indicated. Earlier, only 40 channels were expected by December-end. The number of radio stations is also likely to go up to 18 by year-end. Currently, there are 28 TV channels (17 are from Prasar Bharati) and 10 All India Radio radio stations.
Besides Al Jazeera, foreign channels in the queue include CNN and World Room Travel (from BBC stable). A Hindi channel from Canada, Sur Sagar, also wants to join the platform. BBC is already there. Others to have shown interest in DD’s direct-to-home project are Sahara (two channels), Jaya TV, Star News, CMM Music, Etc Music, Jeevan (Malyalam), Splash, Vyasa (educational), Ekalavya (educational) and TV9 (Telugu).
When asked about the terms and conditions for private channels joining the DTH platform of the public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma said, “the same programme and advertising codes (in the Cable TV Act) will be applicable to these channels”.
Even as Prasar Bharati is on a major spree to attract private channels, it had earlier stipulated that there would be no news or foreign-owned channels on the DD DTH platform. The only rule that the pubcaster hasn’t changed so far is that only free-to-air channels will be allowed.
DD DTH users need to pay around Rs 3,500-4,000 as a one-time charge for the dish antenna. There’s no monthly subscription. For one year, there’s no payment involved between Prasar Bharati and private channels also. After a year, the agreement will be reviewed.
Meanwhile, formal inauguration of the pubcaster’s Rs 500-crore DTH venture is still awaited.