From confrontation between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, it’s a television signal war to grab the attention of locals now. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has launched a major drive in the border areas to wean away locals from channels beamed from across the border. Over 30,000 free Doordarshan (DD) dish set-top boxes have been earmarked to be distributed in 10 border districts closer to the LoC and the International Border (IB), out of the State’s 22 districts. They will provide 100 channels for free, including local news channels. Only dish antennas Hundreds of residents, especially in the Pir Panjal Valley’s Rajouri and Poonch districts, have only dish antennas or traditional antennas because no cable operator can access the tough terrain. Given their geographical location, these antennas easily catch TV channels from across the border, including the official channels of Pakistan Television (PTV). “We use dish antennas. We easily access channels from across the border. Pakistani serials are very popular with the population closer to the LoC,” N.A. Manhas, a resident of Poonch’s Meandhar, told The Hindu.‘A better alternative’ Doing away with the one-time fee of around ₹2,000 for these set-top boxes, the State government will make them available for free. “There are undesirable channels, not approved by the Ministry, being received and watched in J&K. Strategically, the move will help us to reach out to people with a better alternative,” a senior DD official said. Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri, Mohammad Aijaz Asad, said free dish set-top boxes were recently distributed in Rajouri’s Nowshera and Seri area among border residents during the ‘Back to Village’ programme, where senior officials directly meet sarpanchs and panchs in far-off villages.Governor Satya Pal Malik kicked off the distribution of these set-top boxes on June 22 in Srinagar and termed it a significant milestone towards achieving the goal of reaching out to people living in far-flung and border areas.“Through these set-top boxes, authentic information will be disseminated to border residents, where connectivity has always remained an issue,” Mr. Malik said, while launching the programme.