As viewership is increasingly shifting to mobile and over-the-top (OTT) platforms, the government is considering creating a policy framework for building a broadcast stack that will allow channels and video content to be transmitted directly to mobile phones using terrestrial TV towers, according to a report in The Hindu Businessline (HBL). One of the options being considered is to form a joint venture between Prasar Bharati and private sector players, including telecom operators, OTT platforms, and content developers.
The government and public service channels that are shown on Doordarshan’s TV channels will be available on mobile phones once the stack has been set up. The HBL quoted a source as saying that discussions are ongoing on auctioning out channels on this broadcast stack to private sector players so that even platforms such as Netflix can use this route instead of the OTT platform.
The proposed broadcast stack will free up broadband spectrum for mission-critical applications. This is because currently, more than 80 per cent of broadband capacity is being used by video streaming services. The broadcast stack will also give a new lease of life to Prasar Bharati's terrestrial network of TV towers, which is currently underutilised.
Prasar Bharati has completed a proof-of-concept field trial in partnership with IIT Kanpur, and a report on the findings of the field trial and the potential business case for ‘Direct to Mobile’ (D2M) services has been submitted, The HBL quoted sources as saying. The goal behind developing a D2M broadcasting platform is in the “delivery of broadcast content of public and national importance directly to mobile phones, smartphones, and other new generation devices,” the HBL reported citing documents. Further, the government aims to “ensure strategic independence to the Indian republic,” for state-owned broadcast.
Secondly, the Centre thinks a D2M ecosystem will provide independence from cellular networks during disasters and crises to “cater to emergency needs in public or national interests,” the report said. A broadcast stack would open and encourage the growth of content ecosystems to distribute local content without significant deployment of capital.