Sahara TV will go digital from December 10th, 7 p.m. onwards. The digital feed will be available on transponder 10-V of AsiaSat 3S. Says Sumit Roy, Head of Sahara TV, "The preparation work is already done. We have already commenced our analogue services on transponder 10-V and 1-V of AsiaSat 3S in order to facilitate switchover by our sanchar saathis (cable operators)."
Sahara TV has set up a modern state-of-the-art multiple channel digital uplink earth station at Noida with both play-out and uplinking facility directly from India.
The channel will continue to offer analogue feed simultaneously on transponder 1-V to ensure that the cable operators can continue to show Sahara TV programmes during the seeding of digital receiver boxes. Talking to exchange4media, the channel spokesperson elucidates, "The cable operators would require new digital receiver boxes. Though big MSOs and cable operators might go digital from day one, smaller cable operators might take some time, and hence the channels do provide analogue and digital feed simultaneously in the beginning."
Does the channel expect viewership to multiply after going digital? Explains the spokesperson, "The quality of telecast improves, and hence the viewer experience is enhanced. It, of course, can also lead to a casual surfer staying on the channel, and perhaps become a loyal viewer".
With the infrastructure comprising of high-end digital encoding equipment with statistical multiplexing in MCPC (Multiple Channel Per Carrier) domain, Sahara plans to launch its 30plus news channels on digital platform in the first quarter of 2003. The launch would commence in a phased manner. Will the channel look at regional languages as well? "Though the current focus is on Hindi, the channel is not averse to looking at regional languages at a later date. The region specific channels that are being launched, will carry city specific news as well," divulges the spokesperson.
Though ad sales would commence only after the launch date has been finalised and announced, talks are on with the advertisers. Will Sahara look at selling itself as a bouquet? Says the spokesperson, "You can see a parallel in print, where there is a national newspaper, and then local ones catering to a specific area. There would be more national advertisers on national news and Sahara TV, while there would be more regional ones on regional news channels. However, we would also look at the opportunity to sell it as a bouquet."