TV broadcasters on collision path with space department over satellite use

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MUMBAI: Mumbai: Television broadcasters in India are at loggerheads with the department of space as the latter is allegedly denying all permissions — be it for launch of a new channel or change in logo — to channels that are not operating on Indian satellites.

Over the last three months, all broadcasters who have applied for either new channels or changes in the name of existing channels have been denied permissions by department of space (DoS) with an explicit directive to move to Indian satellites, Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has complained to minister of state for space Jitendra Singh and information and broadcasting (I&B) minister Smriti Irani in a letter.

ET has reviewed a copy of the letter that has sought immediate relief to the TV broadcasters.

Apparently, DoS wants all the channels to shift their operations to Indian satellites operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from existing foreign satellites like Intelsat, Asiasat, Measat, Apstar and others. Currently 80% of all Indian broadcasters are operating on foreign satellites. Out of 724 active channels, only 156 are on Indian satellites.

In October last year, the I&B ministry had reverted to the erstwhile practice of referring all applications seeking uplinking permissions, or change of teleport and/or satellite in respect of TV channels to DoS for its ‘no objection’.

This, IBF said in its letter, has resulted in permissions being denied to all new channels and existing channels who have applied for new permissions.

Punit Goenka, president of IBF, claimed that capacity on INSAT 4A is satiated while ISRO’s other satellites lack quality teleports. “The capacity that ISRO is offering to broadcasters on GSAT-10 and GSAT-17 have no concomitant approved teleports,” he told ET.

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