An expanded satellite bouquet of 200 channels is to be carried free-to-air by India’s state broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) by the end of 2012, according to IBN Live News. The venture will reportedly cost INR 100 crore.

DD currently broadcasts 21 of its own TV channels direct to home (DTH) by satellite, and also carries 21 channels from All India Radio, plus 16 private channels. Low carriage rates, when compared to India’s private DTH operators, and a high national reach may attract further broadcasters to the DD platform, ministry officials are reported as claiming.

Doordarshan currently provides DTH services to about 8 million households in India, though officials

believe this will increase substantially once its bouquet expands. In total, over 32 million homes in India now subscribe to the six private DTH platforms: Dish TV, Tata Sky, Sun Direct, Airtel Digital TV, Reliance Digital TV and Videocon d2h.

“About 150 channels including some prime entertainment ones have already evinced their keen interest to broadcast through our platform,” one senior official from the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry, was quoted as saying in the IBN report.

"The inclusion of more channels would also trigger a competition in the market and a slash in subscription rate by other players...a win win situation for the customers," the official continued.

Broadcasters wishing to place their channels with DD’s DTH service must, however, first participate in an e-auction and fulfil the criteria already laid down.

India’s DTH service is expanding at a rate of a million (10 lakh) subscribers a month, with 50% of the growth happening in rural areas, according to the I&B Ministry.

Furthermore, the government has recently cleared another 75 channels for broadcast in India. These include offerings from Star India, Zee Entertainment Enterprises, and Discovery Communications, according to the report. This will take the total number of TV channels available to viewers in the south Asian nation to over 650.