TRAI’s recommendations on digital terrestrial broadcasting

TV Households by platform (Asia Pacific)Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday issued recommendations on issues related to digital terrestrial broadcasting.

TRAI said the implementation of DTT services in the country in hybrid mode having main transmitter in MFN and gap fillers in SFN will facilitate provision of local content as well as rich bouquet of services.

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Public broadcaster may be permitted to operate maximum three transmitters (8 MHz X 3) at a given location out of which one (8 MHz) may be exclusively used for provision of mobile TV services.

Private broadcasters may be permitted to operate maximum four transmitters (8 MHz X 4) at a given location subject to availability of spectrum.

Maximum number of DTT providers may be capped at five (one public broadcaster and four private broadcasters) as per availability of spectrum.
Analog and Digital TV Households by platformMinistry of Information and Broadcasting in consultation of WPC of DoT and other technical agency such as BECIL can carry out frequency planning for roll out of DTT services within a period of six months to ensure roadmap for digitization of terrestrial network and introduction of DTT services.

TRAI will give the term and condition regarding allocation of spectrum to DTT operators, frequency slots for auctions, reserve price etc. once these recommendations are accepted by the India government.
TV Households by platformAllocation of spectrum should be done in time bound manner so that spare and unutilized spectrum in band IV and band V can be put to effective use.

In Asia pacific region covering 22 countries including India, at present the number of digital cable TV households is 330 million whereas the number of TV households for DTH and DTT are 147 million and 129 million respectively.

DTT is expected to witness a positive growth trend in the coming years. It is estimated that around 2019, DTT penetration will surpass the DTH penetration in the region, and by 2021, DTT is estimated to become the second largest digital TV platform to serve the consumer after digital cable TV platform.

In majority of countries, where DTT has been implemented, the terrestrial broadcasting space has been shared by private players along with the public broadcaster since analog era. As a result, terrestrial TV broadcasting emerged as a prominent platform in the presence of other distribution platforms.

In UK and Australia, “Freeview” consortium of public and private broadcasters have developed DTT as a viable alternate platform with new services and bouquets of SDTV, HDTV, Radio services and value added services etc. In these countries DTT platforms and services are popular which are mainly free to air platform.

In India, terrestrial TV broadcasting continues to remain under the exclusive domain of the public broadcaster. During the eighties when there were hardly any alternative platforms available in India for distribution of TV channels, Terrestrial broadcasting was a dominant mode of TV program distribution. Subsequently, opening up of satellite and cable sector to the private payers witnessed an exponential growth in these sectors.

However, terrestrial platform has not seen much developments and it lost the edge over other platforms as the services offered by terrestrial service provider remained very limited in numbers and variety of content which could not meet the increasing choices of consumers.

Broadcasting sector has seen phenomenal growth ever since private sector was allowed to participate in DTH and FM radio services. The cable sector in the country has been excessively driven by private operators. Entry of private operators in the FM sector has rejuvenated the scene of radio listening in the country, taking FM services in far flung areas.