Thursday, September 18, 2008

Paid Vs Free to air channels: Please avoid Paid TV channels

(Being published as draft only, will be updated and finalised soon)
TV in India:
Television services were launched in India in September, 1959 at Delhi on experimental basis by All India Radio. Regular transmission was started in 1965 in Delhi and extended in Bombay and Amritsar in 1972. TV transmission wing was separated in 1976 and Doordarshan, the Indian National Broadcaster was established. TV transmission became coloured in 1982. Famous TV serials of Doordarshan are: 1. Hum Log (1984), 2. Buniyaad (1986-87), 3. Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984), 4. Ramayan (1987-88), 5. Mahabharat (1989-90), 6. Karamchand, 7. Byomkesh Bakshi , 8. Dada Dadi ki Kahaniyan, 9. Vikram Betaal, 10. Chaanakya, 11. The Sword of Tipu Sultan etc. Besides this, Doordarshan also telecast many tele- ads, containing social messages like 1. Ek Chidiya, anek chidiya, 2. Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, 3. Baje Sargam etc.
Modes of transmission of TV channels:
There have been two modes being used in India for transmission/ telecast of TV channels. Brief description of those are as follows: 1. Terrestrial: This is the oldest mode of TV transmission in India on which Doordarshan started its transmission initially and currently also broadcasting its National channel covering almost 95% of whole country. In this system TV signals are transmitted through HPTs (High Power Transmitters) & LPTs (Low Power Transmitters) depending upon range of that area. Simple antennas are capable of receiving those signals. LPTs & HPTs do receive these signals through satellite but the viewer does not have to receive any signals from satellite, it does only catch those signals relayed by those HPTs & LPTs. In India, Doordarshan, the Indian National Broadcaster is having about 1400 transmitters established across the country. 2. Through satelitte: In this system, no transmitters are required to be set. TV signals are transmitted to the satellite and the cable operator receives directly from satellite and distributes it through Cable network. Now DTH (Direct To Home) has also been allowed in India in which the consumer itself receives the signals directly from satellite using a dish and decoder. This is also a type of satellite TV.
Comparison between Terrestrial & Satelitte TV system:
In both of these systems, Terrestrial TV broadcast is costlier as compared to Satellite TV broadcast. Terrestrial system requires i) more staff, ii) bigger set- up of network, iii) more maintenance. In latter system, no set- up of transmitters is required. Only a single TV studio-cum-transmitter set up is required to transmit TV signals to satellite.
Evolution of Satellite TV in India:
In early nineties, satellite TV was introduced in India and has now taken up the majority of viewers with them now since then. Initially, channels e.g.; Star, Zee were totally free but could only be received after having a big dish at your home roof or on hiring TV signals through a wire/ cable from a commercial signal provider known as Cable Operator.
Paid Vs Free to Air channels:
Later when these satellite TV channels succeeded in entering homes as well as hearts of common man of India, they started encryption of their channels. Encryption of signals is the phenomenon in which the TV signals are encoded in such a way that the cable operator can only decode them on paying a requisite amount depending on the number of consumers of that operator. These channels are now known as paid channels. These channels are now not only earning money through encryption of them but also earning through advertisements. Whereas there are some free to air channels too which have not encrypted their signals and can be viewed without paying directly to the channel tycoon. On intervention of Delhi High Court, some parts of four metro cities have been put to CAS (Conditional Access System), in which the cusumer does not pay for all channels being decoded by cable operator but pays only for those channels which he opts to view through a digital set top box. The channels were planning to fix per channel fees as per their strategies but thanks to God, the Government later put these TV channels under jurisdiction of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) which has reviewed the services of these channels and also restricted monthly charges to view a channel upto a maximum of Rs.5 only (Rs.2 for channel + Rs.2 for Multi system operator like Hathway + Rs.1 for local cable operator). It is also being considered to restrict the commercial air time for ads on a channel to be restricted to ten minutes per hour only and the channels would be forced to relay social messages too. So it should be our motto to: 1. Discourage these purely commercial channels by avoiding them, 2. Encourage Free to Air channels as they are not cutting our pockets in both ways, 3. Also encourage Doordarshan, the Indian National Broadcaster which does not only relay its all channels for free but also fulfils its duties towards nation and society.
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