On 15th September 1959, the first television broadcast in India was started from, Delhi India. It was a beginning of a new era in the Indian mass media. The country was introduced to one of the most powerful mediums of communication. Today, television reaches more than 40% of India, second only to the newspapers.
Doordarshan was the lone channel on Indian television spectrum, till late 1980s. It was broadcast terrestrially, and still is the only channel in India, which has a terrestrial network. Indian television industry went through significant defining moments, which completely changed the way audiences watch television today. Let us look back at the important milestones which had maximum impact on Indian television and its audiences.
Private broadcasters- Till late 1980s, Doordarshan was the lone Indian channel. In 1991, Narsimha Rao government brought in a plethora of economic reforms. One of them was allowing catering private and foreign broadcasters in Indian space, even though in a limited engagement. Zee TV and Sun TV were the first domestic channels to be launched in 1992. Star TV made its first foray into Indian television screens, operating from Hong Kong, for transmission. Today, the Indian television audience has access to more than 500 channels, in more than 20 languages, and newer channels are still joining the bandwagon.
DTH- Direct-to-Home service revolutionalized Indian television viewing. To get over the monopoly of cable service providers, Zee Network came up with the first DTH service in India. Dish TV was the first DTH service in India, started in 2003. It allowed the audiences, to pick and choose their desired channels, for the first time in television history. Regional language packages, sports packages, movie packages were developed as a bouquet of services provided by Dish TV. Today, India has more than 5 DTH providers, namely, Tata Sky, Videocon d2H, Airtel, Sun Direct DTH and DD Direct Plus, catering to 35 million TV audiences.
Video-on-demand- With increasing competition in the DTH segment, the service providers came up with more attractive services. Video on demand is one such path-breaking feature. Allowing the users to record television programmes to be seen at any convenient time and broadcasting movies on demand, both old and new, has captured the attention of the audiences. For the first time, the control of viewing a program lies with the viewer and not with the broadcasting channel. This has made the audience more powerful in terms of television control. Split-screen viewing, to see multiple channels at the same time, is also an exciting development.
Regional channels- Indian television has channels in more than 20 languages. From news to entertainment channels and movies to music channels, all content is today available on regional channels. Doordarshan was the first Indian channel to start regional services. These channels have been extremely popular in non-cable connection homes. ETV exclusively runs regional language channels. It does not have a single Hindi or English language channel. This has forced the big players like Zee and Star, to venture into regional language channels. The audience has liked the regional channels and these channels are competing with the national channels. In fact, Tamil and Telugu channels are gaining higher TRPs than national channels.