Tata Sky DTH receives nod from Telecom ministry

NEW DELHI: Tata Sky, proposing to start a DTH television service in India, can heave a sigh of relief as a nod from the telecommunication ministry has cleared a big impediment in obtaining a licence from the government.

The clearance includes a green signal for the vexed matter of setting up an uplinking base in Delhi by Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, an issue that was under government scanner on technical grounds of land use by VSNL.

Admitting that the telecom ministry nod would clear a lot of haze over the DTH project, Tata Sky CEO Vikram Kaushik told today, "I have heard from the media that we have got a clearance (from the telecom ministry), but I am yet to receive any official communication from the government."

However, Kaushik sounded pleased and said as and when the telecom ministry clearance is officially communicated to Tata Sky, it would be a step forward towards obtaining the final licence from the information and broadcasting ministry.

Still, there are various other clearances from government agencies that have to be obtained by Tata Sky, which also includes a green signal from the Wireless Planning and Co-ordination Commission (WPC) for satellite frequencies to be used by the DTH service.

Tata Sky, a 80:20 joint venture between Tata Sons and the Rupert Murdoch-controlled Star Group, is proposing to invest up to $ 500 million in capital expenditure in the DTH project that is looking at beaming 150-odd digital channels to subscribers' homes in India in the initial phase.

Slated to be serviced through an Insat satellite, which is likely to be put in geo-stationary orbit later this month, the Tata Sky DTH project will have to compete with ASC Enterprises-promoted Dish TV and pubcaster's DD Direct+ for which the subscribers don't have to pay any monthly fee.

ASC Enterprises LTD is a venture of the Essel Group that is controlled by Subhash Chandra who is also the main promoter of Zee Telefilms.

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