On Wednesday, the cabinet approved the “Broadcast Infrastructure Network Development (BIND)” scheme with an outlay of Rs 2539.61 crore for the modernisation, upgradation and expansion of All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan for the five-year period ending 2025-26. The plan includes priority projects for AIR and Doordarshan with a focus on expanding and strengthening of the FM radio network and mobile TV production facilities amounting to Rs 950 crore which are to be completed in fast-track mode, it added.
According to a statement released by the cabinet, the plan aims at major upgradation to create better infrastructure and widen the public broadcaster’s reach in LWE, border and strategic areas. This includes the development of high-quality content for both domestic and international audiences and the availability of diverse content by upgrading the capacity of the DTH platform, to accommodate more channels that will expand the choice available to the audience. Additionally, the plan aims to expand the FM network primarily in tier-2 and tier-3 cities with a focus on LWE and aspirational districts.
Amongst the twin verticals of Prasar Bharati, AIR serves its listeners in the country through 501 AIR Broadcasting Centers with 653 AIR Transmitters (122 Medium Wave, 7 Short Wave and 524 FM Transmitters) giving World Services, Neighbourhood Services, 43 Vividh Bharati Channels, 25 Rainbow Channels and 4 FM Gold Channels. Besides, Doordarshan serves its viewers with 66 Doordarshan Kendra producing 36 DD Channels, disseminating through various delivery platforms such as Cable, DTH, IPTV ‘NewsOnAIR’ mobile app
The following major activities have been planned under the BIND Scheme
All India Radio
- Increasing the FM coverage in the country to 66.29% by geographical area and 80.23% by population up from 58.83% and 68% respectively.
- Increasing the coverage of AIR FM coverage to 63.02% from the existing 48.27% at the Indo Nepal
- Increasing the AIR FM coverage from 62% to 76% along the J&K Border.
- A 20 kW FM transmitter will be installed at the 300 m tower at Rameshwaram to cover an area of 30,000 sq km.
- Facelift of DD and AIR channels by installing the latest broadcasting and studio equipment at Prasar Bharati facilities.
- Upgradation of earth stations at DDK Vijaywada and Leh to 24 hrs channel.
- Rolling out of Fly away units for covering the prestigious National Ceremony/events and VVIP coverages.
- 28 Regional Doordarshan channels to be migrated as High-Definition program production capable Kendras.
- 31 Regional News Units in the entire Doordarshan network will be upgraded and modernised with the latest equipment for efficient news gathering.
- Upgradation and replacement of Earth stations at DDK Guwahati, Shillong, Aizawl, Itanagar, Agartala, Kohima, Imphal, Gangtok and Port Blair for uplinking HDTV channels.
Some prominent features of the plan are as follows:
- 41 FM Transmitters of 10 KW and higher capacities besides 100 nos. of 100 W transmitters for increasing FM coverage by more than 6 lakh Sqm in the country primarily in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, LWE and border areas and aspirational districts of the country.
- Expansion of DD free dish capacity from the existing 116 channels to about 250 channels for providing a rich and diverse bouquet of channels free of cost.
- The DD free dish is Prasar Bharati’s free-to-air Direct to Home (DTH) platform which has been estimated to have 4.30 crore connections (as per FICCI and E&Y Report 2022), which makes it the largest DTH platform in India. Viewers of DD Free Dish are not required to pay any monthly or annual charges for viewing channels on the platform. The platform has 167 TV channels consisting of 49 Doordarshan and Sansad channels, 77 private TV channels of leading broadcasters (11 general entertainment channels (GEC), 14 movie, 21 news, seven music, nine regional, seven bhojpuri, one sports, five devotional channels, three foreign channel, 51 educational channels and 48 radio channels).
- Establishing DD Free Dish disaster recovery facility for ensuring uninterrupted DTH service in the event of a disaster or natural calamity.
- Automation and modernisation of broadcast facilities of field stations for seamless and efficient production and transmission. This entails provisions of Automated Playout facilities, news room computer systems for modern days news production systems, file-based work flow to cater to real-time production editing and transmission, provision of the latest studio cameras, lenses, switchers, routers, among others and the state-of-the-art technology for field stations of DD, across the country. This capacity-building measure will enable DD to match with time, technology and technique of modern-day TV Studio Production.
- Providing rich content including in regional languages with a focus on entertainment, health, education, youth, sports and other public service content.
- Strengthening of news gathering facilities with quick response capabilities and expanding it to semi-rural areas for an increasing share of local and hyper-local news coverage.
- Inducting new technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality for visually enriched program content generation.
- Upgradation of existing up-link stations with spectrum efficient technology for efficient use of satellite transponders.
- Efficiency and transparency in governance with effective management of data flow in the AIR and DD network.
- Significant increase in digital reach for both domestic and global audiences.
- Free distribution of over eight lakh DD DTH Receiver sets is planned for remote, tribal, LWE and border areas to enable the audience in these areas to access television & radio services.
The scheme will also generate indirect employment by way of manufacturing and services related to the supply and installation of broadcast equipment. Content generation will provide direct and indirect employment in different media fields in the content production sector, the statement concluded.