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Govt approves Rs 3,500 cr for Prasar Bharati

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet has approved proposals of financial assistance of Rs 3,500 crore ( Rs 35 billion) for upgrade of broadcast infrastructure and network of public broadcaster Prasar Bharati.

The funds will be used for both Doordarshan and All India Radio, as well as for setting up of TV transmitters along the Indo-Nepal border.

The Expenditure Finance Committee had recommended the investment in November last year and it was waiting for approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

While the amount will help the pubcaster to digitise transmitters and studios of its radio stations (AIR) and DD, it will also be used for offering high-definition (HD) TV and expansion of its free-to-air (FTA) direct-to-home (DTH) service FreeDish and FM services by AIR.

The scheme has two major components, namely continuing schemes of the 11th Five Year Plan and new schemes of the 12th Plan. The continuing schemes of AIR and Doordarshan are at different stages of implementation and will be completed in phases by 2015–16 by Doordarshan and 2016–17 by AIR.

Under the new schemes, eight television terrestrial transmitters are proposed along the Indo-Nepal border, which are targeted to cover 65 per cent of the population of Nepal.

As part of the 11th Plan scheme, the capacity of FreeDish is being expanded from 59 channels to 97. According to the 12th Plan, the capacity is to be further expanded to 250 channels.

In the 12th Plan, 23 additional digital terrestrial transmitters (DTTs) are proposed to be installed. Provisions have also been kept for modernisation of existing equipment /facilities in studios and satellite uplinks essential to sustain ongoing activities and for HD studio facilities at Chennai and Kolkata.

As regards AIR, FM expansion in 118 places, in addition to eight FM broadcasting set-ups along the Indo-Nepal border, replacement of old FM transmitters in 77 locations and six MW transmitters by FM transmitters, digitisation of 29 studios and creation of an archival facility in Guwahati are envisaged. Strengthening of training facilities, R&D and introduction of e-governance with limited application of enterprise resource planning (ERP) also form part of this scheme.

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