Sushma Swaraj unsure of when DTH would start

NEW DELHI: India's information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj told Parliament that it was not possible to indicate as to when KU-band direct-to-home (DTH) service will become operational in the country, even as two applications are pending with the government seeking permission to start it.

In a written reply given in India's Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), the Minister said that the decision to start DTH services was taken by the Government in November 2000 and detailed guidelines for it were issued in March last year.

"Two applications have been received seeking permission start DTH service in the country.....It is not possible to indicate when the DTH service will become operational in the country," Swaraj said. Asked if there was a proposal to review the guidelines originally mandated, the Minister replied in the negative.

Various bodies, including India's Planning Commission, have in the past have said that the present DTH guidelines, especially those relating to FDI, need to be previewed as the policy has failed to attract any investment till now.

The two companies which, earlier this year, have sought DTH license are Space TV (a Star TV affiliate) and ASC Enterprises Ltd, a company which is promoted by Zee supremo Subhash Chandra and through a subsidiary is implementing India's first private satellite project called Agrani. Agrani recently also moved an application seeking uplinking permission.

In the month of October, Swaraj had told journalists that the government is studying the applications regarding DTH licence and the procedures are underway. To a question by a scribe as to why a DTH service hadn' t started till now, Swaraj had said that even the companies looking at starting a DTH service in India "would need some time to firm up their business plans."

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