Register here for a free copy of SATELLITE & CABLE TV Magazine, SMS & email Update

November 2017



On 23 Aug 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that Doordarshan cannot share its live sports feed for retransmission by Cable TV networks or DTH platforms. Prasar Bharati can air the live feed of sporting events of national importance that it gets free from private sports broadcasters only on its DD channels & platforms that consumers receive directly.

Typically, Doordarshan carries sports feeds on its DD National channel which is a "Must carry" channel for all Cable TV networks and DTH platforms. As a result, viewers of not only DD terrestrial and FreeDish, but of all Cable TV & DTH platforms also receive a fee live feed of all designated 'Sporting Events of National Importance.' This practice has been stopped abruptly by the Supreme Court judgement.


Sashi Shekhar Vempati is probably the youngest CEO of Prasar Bharati. He comes for InfoSys & is the first private sector executive to get this job.


Turning this apparent huge loss, to DD's advantage, Vempati has drawn out plans to relaunch DD Sports as a Prime Cricket channel for Doordarshan's direct viewers.

On FreeDish it will provide a further impetus to the surging viewership.

"All along cricket was on DD National. The only sports channel of DD had no purpose or identity, it was just drifting. Now we have a reason to make DD Sports the go-to destination for cricket and other sporting events of national importance because of the manner in which the verdict forces us to operate. It creates an avenue to make DD Sports the place for cricket," the Prasar Bharti CEO told the press.

Maybe Vempati could use DD Sports as an MPEG-4 channel on FreeDish to induce viewers to shift upgrade from their FTA MPEG-2 STBs to the new, iCAS controlled MPEG-4 STBs.


DD Sports will removed from the list of DD 'Must Carry" channels, and will be carried exclusively on DD Terrestrial & FreeDish. "We will carry future matches on DD Sports, as a channel available on FreeDish and on terrestrial through DTT" Vempati explained.


"On terrestrial Analogue where we have 1 or 2 transmitters where we either show DD National or News, there we will ensure that the feed is sports so that one of the transmitters will show the match on analog wherever it is available," he added.


As of now it is all home games of India for one day and T20, then the big tournaments like the World Cup, the challenger and ICC trophy and so on. Then certain tennis matches, certain soccer matches.


The big thing is the FIFA under-17. All 52 or 56 matches will be on DD Sports, FTA. The government sees it as a big way of promoting soccer. For the first time India is holding a FIFA international event. The Youth FIFA event could provide Indian Youth its first intensive viewing of a Doordarshan channel.


"I now have an avenue to go and promote digital terrestrial which is just languishing in 19 cities which are the main population centres of India," points out the PB CEO.

"Now I am going to tell them you don't have to buy that ₹ 60 or ₹ 120 package. Forget about all that, many of your TVs have an inbuilt digital tuner. There are certain models of Sony, LG and Samsung which have them, all you need to do is turn it on" he explained.


DD Sports can also be viewed via Doordarshan's mobile phone App - a free download. DD Channels can be viewed via this app and the DVB-T2 dongle, which is available on Flipkart etc.


Vempati confirmed that some startups working on a hotspot plugged into the wall, which will receive the DD DTT DVB signal, & add it to the local WiFi network, so that all devices at home can watch it as a TV channel.


"We have taken some measures following the board meeting recently. It was a long pending board meeting. A lot of decisions were taken. One of the decisions was analog. We will start sunsetting analog. And that frees up resources. Frees up manpower. Frees up certain operating funds. Those can be put to use in areas where we definitely need a lot of things to be done. Information technology being a long pending area where we have not invested," says Vempati.

Clearly, there is a new zest at Doordarshan who plans to turn around the Supreme Court's restrictions to its advantage. If properly implemented and promoted, DD Sports could become one of the most sought after FTA channels in the country. n