Digitisation altering the way poor access TV

Bhubaneswar: Digitisation is changing the way the poor access TV and terrestrial broadcasting reception has almost disappeared in rural and urban India, says a study which looks at its impact on working class television viewers.

The study by Delhi-based Media Foundation conveys snapshots from the ground in over four States and is based on data from some of the districts considered backward, including Kalahandi in Odisha. The first-of-its-kind study says that digitisation of TV signals was putting an end to free-to-air telecast regime.

Reporting on how digitisation was impacting people at the bottom of income pyramid, the study says that new TV households in the villages now go straight to Direct-to-Home (DTH) operators, except in Andhra Pradesh where cable covers much of the rural population.

“Yet a substantial part of Prasar Bharati’s annual budget allocations each year are absorbed by the salary and hardware costs of maintaining its terrestrial network of 1,400 transmitters.”

The study says that growth of television access in rural India is riding on the digital revolution. “Post digitisation, driven by content demand, rural India has overtaken urban India in TV ownership. 2011 was the first year to record this change,” it says.

The study says that majority of TV households opt for paid DTH over Doordarshan’s free dish because they want content choice. “In not a single State do even 50 per cent of all DTH households opt for Doordarshan’s free dish – DD Direct,” it says.

“The absence of popular entertainment channels as Colors and channels such as Discovery and National Geographic and private regional language channels such as OTV in Odisha or Zee Chhattisgarh or numerous private channels in Andhra Pradesh on the DD direct bouquet has led to demand for DD free dish declining between 2006-07 and 2012-13,” it said.

The main areas of study were Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi and were supplemented with additional group interviews conducted in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.