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06-August-2017 18:09 IST

70 years of Independence

Special Feature – I- Day 2017


Journey of Television Revolution

*Sanjay Kachot

Little over two decades after the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) began the first television service of the world in 1936, Television was introduced in India on September 15, 1959 in Delhi. It was with the help of UNESCO that it all started.  Initially programmes were broadcast twice a week for an hour a day on themes like community health, traffic, road sense citizens’ duties and rights.

In 1961 these broadcasts were expanded to include a School Educational Television (STV) project. The first major expansion of television in India began in 1972, when a second television station was opened in Bombay. This was followed by stations in Srinagar and Amritsar in 1973, and in Calcutta, Madras and Lucknow in 1975.

For the first 17 years, television broadcast spread haltingly and transmission was in black and white. By 1976, the network consisted of eight television stations covering a population of 45 million spread over 75,000 square kilometers. Faced with the difficulty of administering such an extensive television system as a part of All India Radio, the government constituted Doordarshan, the national television network, as a separate Department under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

There were three ignition points that triggered the phenomenal growth of television in India from mid 1970s. The first was the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) which was conducted between August 1975 and July 1976. It used a satellite to broadcast educational programmes to villages across six states. The objective was to use television for development, though entertainment programmes were also included. It actually brought television closer to masses. Then came the INSAT-1A, the first of the country's domestic communications satellites which became operational in 1982 and made possible the networking of all regional stations of Doordarshan. For the first time Doordarshan could start what was called "National Programme" which was fed from Delhi to all other stations. In November 1982, the country hosted the Asian Games and the government introduced color broadcasts for the coverage of the games.

 The 80’s was the era of Doordarshan with soaps like Hum Log (1984), Buniyaad (1986-87), and Millions glued to Doordarshan for mythological dramas like Ramayana (1987-88) and Mahabharata (1988-89) too. Now more than 90 percent of the Indian population receives Doordarshan (DDl) programmes through a network of nearly 1400 terrestrial transmitters. The third significant booster came in early nineties with the onset of satellite TV by foreign programmers like CNN followed by Star TV and a little later by some domestic channels like Zee TV and Sun TV into Indian homes. As the government gradually relaxed restrictions, Television in India grew and from the mid 1990's, Cable TV brought about a home entertainment revolution.

If we go by the Annual Report released by TRAI for the year: 2015-16, it clearly stated that India has the world’s second largest TV market after China. As per industry estimates, as on March 2016, of the existing 2841 million households, around 1811 million have Television sets which are being served by cable TV services, DTH services, IPTV services in addition to a terrestrial TV network of Doordarshan. The pay TV universe consists of around 1021 million Cable TV subscribers, 88.64 million registered DTH subscribers (including 58.53 million active subscribers) and around half a million IPTV subscribers. The terrestrial TV network of Doordarshan serves about 92.62 per cent of country’s population through a vast network of terrestrial transmitters.


There are 48 pay broadcasters, an estimated 60,000 cable operators, 6000 Multi System Operators (MSOs), six pay DTH operators, in addition to the public service broadcaster- Doordarshan, providing a free-to- air a DTH service. Of the 869 registered TV channels with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting at the close of financial year 2015-16, 205 are Standard Definition (SD) pay TV channels (including 5 advertisements – free pay channels) and 58 are High Definition (HD) Pay TV channels.


India’s television industry grew from Rs 4,75,003 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 5,42,003 Crores in 2015-16, thereby registering a growth of around 14.10%. Subscription revenues account for a major share of the overall industry revenue. Subscription revenues rose from Rs. 3,20,003 Crores in 2014-15 to Rs. 3,61,003 crore in 2015-16. On a similar note, advertisement revenues grew from Rs.1,55,003 Crores in 2014-15 to Rs. 1,81,003 Crores in 2015-16. The last decade witnessed significant changes in the dynamics of the Cable & Satellite (C&S) TV market. The most significant development has been the digitization of the cable TV sector in India.


Future of Television in India

India is the second largest subscription television market in the Asia Pacific Region in terms of number of subscribers. India will be amongst few countries to register a double digit growth up to 2020 in terms of television advertising. Though at a saturation level with expected average annual decline in subscription, cable television will continue to dominate the market over satellite television up to 2020. Also, digitization has resulted in tremendous growth in the number of television channels which has now crossed 800. Television penetration in India is currently at 61% which signifies scope for tremendous growth and expansion.

Indian media and entertainment (M&E) industry is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5% to touch $45.1 billion by 2021 from the current $27.3 billion, said a report ‘Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2017-21 released by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Growth for digital advertising (in India) is projected to be the fastest at a CAGR of 18.6%, while television advertising is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.1% between 2017 and 2021. “As the economy grows, this presents strong opportunities for expansion in the TV market,” the report said.


*Author teaches at Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Institute of Language Studies and Applied Social Sciences (ILSASS), ANAND, (Gujarat).


Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.


(The feature has been contributed by PIB Ahmedabad)