February 2017


Doordarshan (DD) has a monopoly on terrestrial TV transmissions in India. DD' 1412 Analog TV terrestrial transmitters cover approximately 88% of the Indian population. However, each terrestrial transmission centre provides only 1 or 2 TV channels. This is in sharp contrast to more than 850 satellite TV channels downlinked into India for consumers. Even Doordarshan has more than 30 national and regional channels. Analog terrestrial transmitters cannot provide capacity for even DD's own channels.


To increase its channel capacity, DD has been establishing a network of Digital Terrestrial transmitters. Each digital transmitter can provide 5 to 8 Digital TV channels in the bandwidth of a single analog TV channel.

Digital Terrestrial Transmissions (DTT) are already operational in 16 cities. Three more cities - Hyderabad, Srinagar and Thiruvananthapuram, will be added by end March 2017.

An additional 44 DTT centres will be added in the next 2 years.

Doordarshan plans to invest Rs. 320 crore in DTT, by 2018.


Besides adding channel capacity, DTT also provides 'Ghost free' reception.

To receive DTT signals in the home, a consumer will need to purchase a DTT STB.

DTT transmissions can also be received in mobile phones with the use of an external dongle.

The advantage of DTT over video-on-demand services like Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video is that DTT does not require an Internet connection, and the high cost of bandwidth on mobile phones.


Doordarshan's DTT transmissions currently transmit 5 channels: DD News, DD Bharati, DD National, DD Sports and a regional-language channel or DD Kisan, depending on the area. The model has the capacity to carry 10 channels.

Practical trials by SCaT in Mumbai and Delhi indicated very poor quality reception. The picture frequently pixelised and froze. This is probably linked to low transmission power. The issue will have to be resolved before a commercial roll out is initiated.


TRAI floated a consultation paper in June 2016 to open terrestrial broadcasting to private broadcasters and develop a roadmap to move to DTT. A final verdict from the TRAI is pending.

In its paper, TRAI had asked whether DTT broadcasting should be opened for participation by the private players, and which model or a combination thereof for DTT would be most suitable in Indian context.


Doordarshan on 23 December held a workshop with stakeholders to explore the potential of DTT services. Experts from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, various stakeholders including Content providers, private broadcasters, receiver manufactures, and officers at Doordarshan participated.

DD says an enthusiastic response was received from the private sector, and Doordarshan is open to commercially auctioning slots on its DTT platform to private sector channels, much like what it does for its FreeDish service.

DTT auctions could provide much needed revenues to the Pubcaster.

"It is an interesting space. It's a new concept which we are evaluating and accordingly, management will take a call. We are planning to have more interactions with Doordarshan officials," Naresh Chahal, vice-president at Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt. Ltd told the press.


Doordarshan has approached the Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad (IIMA) to develop a relevant business model for the platform.

"We are working with IIMA to develop a business model which will be ready by February. We might share the capacity by auctioning channel slots to the private broadcasters. We are yet to finalize the model and from there, we can further develop a roadmap for DTT. This can be a game changer for the industry," said Supriya Sahu, director general at Doordarshan. n