After a long wait, public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has finally kicked off its Rs 500 crore DTH venture, roping in around two lakh subscribers to begin with.
“We signed agreements with private channels on Thursday and are beaming to about two lakh subscribers,” Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma said.
The public broadcaster becomes the second DTH operator in the country after Zee-promoted ASC Enterprises’ Dish TV, which has managed to corner around 1.5 lakh subscribers in about a year’s operations.
Mr Sarma said DD’s DTH would telecast only free-to-air channels, also airing All India Radio (AIR) channels as an add-on.
“So far, we have 17 DD channels on the platform and 12 private channels, which include BBC World, Aaj Tak, Headlines Today, Zee Cinema, Zee Music, Splash TV, Aakash Bangla, Sun TV, Kairali,” he said.
The platform, which just entails an initial cost of about Rs 2,500-3,500 for the dish and the set-top box, will also offer about 10 radio channels to begin with and AIR plans to increase it to 19 in the coming months. These radio beams would include regional radio channels.
The Prasar Bharati CEO said their service will be initially targeted at non-cable and non-television coverage areas. “These include Jammu and Kashmir and North-Eastern areas.”
Prasar Bharati had begun trial run for the DTH platform for the last few months, but is awaiting a formal inauguration by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
According to an official of the public broadcaster, about Rs 160 crore have been spent on the venture so far.
“The rest of the investment will be made in the coming months for upgradation as well as other expansion programmes,” he said. The service is being marketed by about 900 private dealers in about 130 cities and the Prasar Bharati is bullish on the prospects, going by the huge numbers of non-cable houses.