Doordarshan’s live coverage of Monday’s swearing-in ceremony went off smoothly but there had been a lot that the broadcaster thought could have gone wrong and had prepared for.
One worry came when senior engineers found there was possibility of a “sun outage” between 3 and 7 pm; the swearing-in was to begin at 6 pm. A sun outage is essentially an interruption in satellite signals due to interference from solar radiation.
“To ensure that our coverage continued without a hitch, we used two digital satellite news gathering vans to send separate signals to two satellites — INSAT 3A and INSAT 4B. These satellites then sent two different signals to our master switch room where our personnel chose the better quality signal,” DD Kendra Delhi’s deputy director general S N Singh told The Indian Express. “The use of two satellites and two exclusive signals — though both signals had the same footage — gave us a back-up to deal with the eventuality of a sun outage.”
Again, the day before the swearing-in, DD officials were told the ceremony might have to be shifted indoors to Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Durbar Hall should the weather turn bad. “To tackle this, we placed an OB van and had a five-camera set-up ready inside the Durbar Hall,” Singh said.
In addition to the eight SAARC countries, DD’s live feed was used by Mauritius too. With its unscrambled satellite signal available for free-to-air downlinking, none of these countries had to seek special permission from DD. The only requests received were from Sri Lanka and Bhutan which wanted to know DD’s satellite parameters to use its footage. While rules mandate DD to charge a fee from those using its feed relating to news content, the broadcaster has decided to offer it free to SAARC countries as a goodwill gesture. The only fee DD will charge is from Mauritius and Sri Lanka, which have used DD’s facilities to transmit feeds generated by their respective TV crews.
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With DD’s satellite signal footprint spanning an area ranging from Afghanistan, Southern China, the ASEAN countries and right up to Australia, the broadcaster estimates that its coverage was watched by 700-800 million people across 180 countries. DD’s experiment of airing the swearing-in live on YouTube, too, saw close to 50,000 people watching it live on that site.