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Govt plans OTT platform, direct-to-mobile TV, FM auction to increase footprint

In a bid to increase its footprint, the government is planning a fresh auction of FM radio stations, roll out an OTT platform, and conduct trials of direct-to-mobile television broadcast this year, Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra said on Thursday.

“We are also working towards an auction of FM radio stations this year. We hope to take FM radio to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities this year,” he said addressing the Broadcast Engineering Society Expo.

He said though there were a large number of FM radio stations, the service covered only 60 per cent of the country.

Chandra said the government has made an allocation of ₹2,500 crore over a four-year period for the Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development (BIND) Scheme to widen the reach of Prasar Bharati, including in the Left wing extremism, border and strategic areas.

The scheme aims to boost public sector broadcasting in the country and focuses on infrastructure development of Prasar Bharati, including All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan (DD).

Chandra said IIT-Kanpur and Sankhya Labs have installed transmitters along Kartavya Path and adjoining areas to demonstrate how television signals can be directly broadcast to mobile phones.

Increasing reach
“Now you can receive television signals directly to your mobile. This is a very interesting technology, which has the potential to increase the reach of television media,” he said.

He said mobile phone users will have to attach a special dongle to their mobile devices to receive television signals. Chandra said mobile manufacturers will have to be encouraged to install a special chip in the phone devices so that television signals can be received without the dongle.

Chandra said Prasar Bharati, the public broadcaster, has a lot of archival footage, which it has not been able to monetise.

“We are now planning to have an OTT platform for Prasar Bharti content. Fresh content, such as the ‘Swaraj’ serial is not available on the internet for want of an OTT platform. We plan to do that in 2023-24,” he said.

India is expected to have one billion smartphone users by 2026, D P S Negi, Member (Finance) Prasar Bharati said.

He said the direct-to-mobile (D2M) technology allowed the broadcast of video and other multimedia content directly to mobile phones, without active internet connection.

“This would be similar to how FM radio works on mobile phones. Allocation of spectrum for D2M will be a great challenge,” Negi said.

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