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Prasar Bharati gets Rs20 crore to distribute free DTH set-top boxes in tribal, remote areas

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-08-2017 Harveen Ahluwalia

New Delhi: The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has allocated a sum of Rs20 crore to public broadcaster Prasar Bharati to distribute direct-to-home (DTH) set-top boxes free of charge in tribal, remote and border areas.

In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Rajyavardhan Rathore, minister of state for information and broadcasting, said that 30,000 DTH set-top boxes have been approved for distribution in consultation with the state governments.

“Prasar Bharati has informed that DTH receiver sets have been distributed by Doordarshan, in the past, in select areas. Further, 30,000 DTH receiver sets have been approved for distribution in tribal, remote & border areas, in consultation with state governments. An allocation of Rs20 crore has been made for this purpose,” said Rathore, in his reply.

Doordarshan’s DTH platform DD Free Dish is the only free-to-air television distribution platform in India and is the largest DTH operator with 22 million subscribers, according to recent estimates from television viewership measurement agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India, shared by Doordarshan.

Recently, former I&B minister M. Venkaiah Naidu had said that the government is planning to distribute 10,000 free DTH set-top boxes in remote and tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, in addition to a dedicated Doordarshan channel for the state.

Currently, DD Free Dish carries 80 channels, including private entertainment channels like Star Utsav, Sony Pal, Zee Anmol, Rishtey and news channels like Aaj Tak, ABP News and News 24.

Going forward, the platform is planning to add 24 new channels this year, taking the total count to 104. Recently, Doordarshan also announced its plans to encrypt FTA signals for DD Free Dish so that they cannot be stolen by unauthorized operators.

For the year 2016-17, Doordarshan recorded the highest-ever revenue from DD Free Dish at Rs264.17 crore, a 47% increase from a year ago. Free Dish had generated Rs180 crore in 2015-16.

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