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DD’s Freedish to get additional transponders on GSAT-15 to offer 250 channels

MUMBAI: Prasar Bharati’s free direct-to-home (DTH) platform Freedish will get additional transponder capacity on GSAT-15 to enhance its capacity to 250 channels under the 12th Plan, Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs, and Information & Broadcasting Arun Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha.

Arun_Jaitley02Freedish, which at present has 64 slots for TV channels, is planning to expand its capacity to 112 channels by providing MPEG4 set-top boxes (STBs).

Jaitley said that the hardware installation of the DTH platform up to 112 TV channels has been completed. The capacity would be further increased to 250 channels, as part of the 12th Plan.

He also stated that Prasar Bharati had faced issues in implementing conditional access system (CAS), which is a part of the upgraded system.

Prasar Bharati has decided to adopt the Indian CAS, which is being finalised by the Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY).

In addition, the Department of Space (DoS) has agreed in principle to provide additional transponders on new GSAT 15 satellite required for upgrading to 250 TV channels, he stated.

Launched on 11 November, GSAT-15 carries 24 communication transponders in Ku-band as well as a GPS-Aided GEO-Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) payload operating in L1 and L5 bands.

CK Jain1Earlier, Doordarshan DDG (Comm. & Sales/ IR & IMD/ DCD) CK Jain had told that Freedish would migrate to GSAT 15 satellite as INSAT 4B was all set to expire.

GSAT 15 will replace INSAT 3A and 4B, which are co-located at 93.5°E. It will cater to DTH operators, VSAT operators who provide broadband services, and digital satellite news gathering for TV news channels.

Currently, Freedish is available in Ku-band on INSAT-4B at 93.5°E, having MPEG-2 DVB-S, four streams of channels with downlink frequencies of 10990, 11070, 11150 and 11570 MHz.

In another interaction, Jain had stated that Freedish would roll out its MPEG-4 STBs from April 2016. Unlike the MPEG-2 STBs, the MPEG-4 STBs can only be procured from authorised dealers. The MPEG4 STBs will be available for Rs 1,000 and above.

Jain had also said that the DTH operator is looking to tap non-Hindi markets by reserving certain slots for non-Hindi regional channels.

With more than 20 million customers, Freedish is by far the biggest DTH platform in India. With the rollout of all-India ratings including rural by the Broadcasters Audience Research Council (BARC), the platform has become even more critical for TV channels who want to reach that audience.

In response to the increasing demand, the DTH platform had hiked its reserve price for slot e-auction to Rs 4.3 crore (Rs 43 million) from Rs 3.7 crore (Rs 37 million).

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