M. S. Duhan, DDG(E), Doordarshan

The discovery and history of radio waves is very fascinating and enchanting. Although Guglielmo Marconi was the first to put the theory of radio waves into practice, the groundwork for his feat was laid in the 19th century by James Clerk Maxwell, Heinrich Hertz, and Nikola Tesla. Maxwell theorized and Hertz confirmed the feasibility of transmitting electromagnetic signals. Tesla invented a device — the Tesla coil — that converts relatively low-voltage current to high-voltage low current at high frequencies. The first documented radio transmission occurred in 1895 and was sent by a 21-year-old Italian Guglielmo Marconi. The first successful TV transmission occurred between 1928 and 1935. 1920s is the golden period for evolution of radio. The humble beginning of radio started in India in the year 1923 with Radio club Bombay. November 12, is observed as the public service broadcasting day in India to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to All India Radio (AIR) studio in 1947.

Principles of public service broadcasting (PSB).  Historically PSB started in most countries for dissemination of information and entertainment to masses without any motive of profits. PSBs ploughed a fertile furrow in the cultural landscape of music, folk tales, cinema, and news. PSB is based on the principles of universality of service, diversity of programming, provision for minority audiences including the disadvantaged, sustaining an informed electorate, and cultural and educational enrichment. The concept was conceived and fostered within an overarching ideal of cultural and intellectual enlightenment of society. The most essential role of PSBs is for accurate, impartial, and comprehensive information about news and current affairs of public importance upon which the public may rely. Some significant PSBs in various countries include AIR and Doordarshan(India), NHK(Japan), ARD(Germany), ABC(USA), Rai Way(Italy),ABC(Australia), TPBS(Thailand), CCTV & CNR(China), BBC(UK). All PSBs are delivering affordable, reliable, simple, fair & free TV and radio programs to everyone.

Program Repertoire in PSB

The lion’s share of broadcasting in most countries comprises music, drama, or other forms of entertainment. PSB may thus be described as the Gold standard for good journalism, entertainment, and education. PSB can be regarded as Geographic University, Universality of Appeal, Minority Service, Women’s Voice, Stadium of Rural Sports, Repertoire of Music & Cultural Events. PSB is a confirmation source and a program supplier. Programs like Krishi Darshan, Grameen Bharat, Total Health, Jaago Grahak Jaago have informed and educated farmers, villagers, and common citizens of the latest technologies and innovations available to them in their profession, life, or rights and opportunities they possess as citizens of the country. DD Bharati shows the cultural university of India. DD News is Bharosa Bharat Ka. In a country like India with variety and plurality of languages and cultures, PSB provides regional channels to meet the diversity of cultural and educative programs. AIR has impactful channels like Roopakon ka Akhil Bharatiya Karyakram and National Programme of Music which is  a feast of classical music. Though PSB in India has made significant contribution in providing reliable news, conserving the cultural diversity, and covering mega sporting and other important happenings, still the modern audiences/viewers are now looking for factual, innovative, and evolving programs. As such PSB can empower citizens regarding their Right to Know.

Broadcasting Trends and Expectations

PSBs have to respond to disruptive trends of technology and unique immersive/absorbing contents. Television and radio audiences now have an unprecedented choice of programs and ways to watch them. Virtualization can revolutionize video. PSBs need to acquire and create premium content to meet the needs of the consumers, create customized content to enhance consumer interactions, look at launching new products and services that address specific market needs. With the launching of Digital Terrestrial Transmission by Doordarshan, mobile TV is a reality in India.

PSB should take lead as the Programme Supplier to other broadcasters and even for social media. Short duration serials, live OB-based programs from among the people in streets, universities, and farms/fields may be highly popular. Education system can be highly benefitted with digital transmissions. Private broadcasters need to be enticed to plough the rich landscape of digital terrestrial platform for radio and TV in India. The digital chasm will then be truly bridged.

Technological Trends

Many countries have adapted time schedules for transition to digital television and many of them have successfully migrated to the digital domain. India is also progressing toward digitalization of its terrestrial network. In the wireless delivery of video, audio, and data to the end user, the terrestrial broadcasting is uniquely important. For digitalization of its terrestrial network, AIR has adopted DRM and Doordarshan has adopted DVB-T2 standards. The efficient compression technology (HEVC) combined with DVB-T2 makes the distribution platform highly efficient. This can facilitate higher number of channels in a given bandwidth. The video contents have extremely large variations in their data rate. The contents may be very slow moving, that is Near static (e.g. near static shots, TV shows) to Very dynamic and complex motion (e.g. complex transitions, frequent scene cuts, and occlusions) etc. The bit rate for each of the above will be different and as such type of content has a bearing on deciding the program data rate. Single frequency network (SFN) is of paramount importance.

Broadcast services are programmed in a linear way, but consumers may wish to watch the programs at the time of their convenience, which could be time shifted from the broadcast transmission. Mobile TV can also be used to know who is watching what and as such interactive transmission and targeted advertising can be facilitated. In an effort for striving to be the most creative, the options like HDTV and ultra high definition TV, interactive hybrid TV (HbbTV), portable and mobile TV, optimal use of high dynamic range, virtual reality (VR), catch-up TV and video-on-demand, surround sound etc. need to be leveraged. Ultra HD televisions are gaining popularity. The Ultra HD refers to two resolutions – 4K Ultra HD (3840 × 2160px) and 8K ultra HD (7680 × 4320px). In the digital era, newspapers, television and radio all have same technologies and all functions can be carried out through a common platform.

The mobile TV by Doordarshan can be excellent alternative for streaming services, which are becoming more and more popular amongst the younger generation. Augmented reality (AR) and VR in broadcasting will make it more exciting and acceptable among a wider stratum of masses particularly in programs like live educational program and sports coverages, conducted through viewer’s participation. 

Digital television technology offers new possibilities to the viewers and broadcasters with improved technical quality of picture and sound, additional programs, and additional reception modes (portable and mobile). Public and private transportation vehicles and public places are potential environments for mobile television services. The digital transmission of AIR and DD will facilitate the moving reception. In the kingdom of video, data may rule, which is feasible with digital transmission network. Although digital television and radio have not advanced as rapidly as was originally expected, digitalization is going forward anyway and with the improvement in receiving environs it will eventually provide uniqueness and viewing paradigm will be exciting. Regulation for mandatory digital tuners in digital receiving devices can hugely empower the viewers. Digitalization will also provide answers to Who is watching what and TRPs may be mirrored perfectly and without any prejudice. Digitalization of PSB will enable it to shine with rich hues and tenacity.