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HRD ministry to launch DTH edu channels; DoS to provide 2 transponders

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD) is all set to launch educational channels on direct-to-home (DTH) platforms as the Department of Space (DoS) has agreed to allot two transponders on GSAT series satellite for the project.

Planning to launch 32 DTH channels, the ministry has signed memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with many institutions to provide live telecast of classroom lectures on these channels. Lectures from the six IITs will also be beamed live on these channels.

“The government is focusing on using space technology to expand the reach of high-quality education. Through the 32 DTH channels, the aim is to ensure that live classrooms can be transmitted from 10 ‘Teaching Ends’ out of which six will be IITs located in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Kharagpur, Kanpur and Guwahati,” a senior official told PTI.

The ministry aims to make these channels on air in a couple of months. The channels will be freely available on Doordarshan’s free DTH platform Freedish.

The PTI report stated that a high-level committee chaired by IIT Gandhinagar director had worked out the finer details of operationalising the project last month. It had recommended that the channels be operationalised by August 2016.

The proposal to launch DTH educational channels was first mooted under the previous government. In October 2013, the HRD ministry under the UPA government had unveiled plans to launch 50 DTH educational channels.

HRD ministry secretary Ashok Thakur had said that these channels would be different from the existing programmes on air including ‘Gyan Darshan’ as the new ones would be more interactive. Moreover, these channels would air live programmes, as opposed to prerecorded shows.

In October 2014, the MIB had sought the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) views whether or not central and state governments could use DTH for non-commercial purpose. This was chiefly because the authority’s earlier recommendations dated 28 December 2012 on not allowing central or state governments and their funded entities to enter into the business of broadcasting and distribution of TV channels was silent on the existing state governments’ Edusat programme.

The regulator, in its response to the MIB, stated that channels for educational purposes should be done through the Prasar Bharati route, through suitable agreements between Prasar Bharati and the central/state governments concerned.

Prasar Bharati, it had said, should ensure that content dissemination through such non-commercial educational channels comply with the code and conduct of broadcasting established in India such as Programme Code, AIR Code, etc. and that the content disseminated through such channels should be such that it can form part of any regular Prasar Bharati channel.

Given the insufficiency of transponder capacity, the allocation of transponder capacity to central/state governments for running DTH educational channels on a non-commercial basis should be done in a careful manner so that it did not lead to a situation where transponder capacity was kept idling when service providers were kept waiting for the same, it had stated.