‘Sun’ rises on HD TV in India

South-based TV and cable player is first in the field with high definition services via satellite dish

The Chennai -based Sun group whose cable-based TV channels straddle the four south Indian states, has become the first Indian provider to offer the next generation high definition television to subscribers of its satellite based direct-to- home (DTH) arm, Sun Direct.

The company has tied up with Samsung to source the HD set top boxes which are required if subscribers are to enjoy the superior picture quality – at least five times sharper – than TV as we know it in India today. They would also need to upgrade to a new generation LCD or LED ( which is a LED back lit LCD) display screen which is “full HD ready” to view content in high definition.

Standard TV is rated as 480p, while  full HD is 1080p which means an image of  1920 by 1080 pixels. Today's LCD TV sets come in the wider format which is characterized as 16 by 9. HD content is made for this format and will be closer to a wide screen theatrical movie experience like Panavision. On the other hand customers who already have LCD sets in the wider shape ( unless they have adjusted their sets) tend to see normal TV content, ‘stretched ‘ sideways, with all content wider than the original and people looking fat and short.

HD also assures full Dolby 5.1 theatre quality sound .

Sun has promised initially, 5 HD channels including a general education  Hindi, English and Tamil channel as well as English, Tamil and Telugu movies . The cost of a package that includes dish, a HD pack and standard Metro pack of channels for one year is Rs 9900. Standard TV dish packages have ranged around Rs 3000. It cost over Rs 10 million to convert one channel to HD . Sun says it hopes to sign up 50,000 subscribers by March 2010.

Even in the US today, only a small minority of channels are in HD – but the push has come -- in India, thanks to Sun – and other dish providers like Tata, Reliance, Zee and Bharti will now have to follow suit, sooner rather than later. / Bangalore Dec 15  2009