Space TV, Sun Direct book transponders on Insat 4

MUMBAI: Space TV and Sun Direct are preparing to launch their direct-to-home (DTH) services, having booked transponder space on Insat 4 series satellites.

Space TV, the 80:20 joint venture between the Tatas and Rupert Murdoch-controlled Star Group, has hired 11 Ku band transponders on Insat 4A. Sources say a test run is planned for November.

Insat 4A is scheduled to launch in August-September.

As an alternative option (in the unlikely event of Insat 4A failing), transponder space has also been booked on Insat 4C, which is scheduled for launch in the first quarter of 2006.

"Space TV wanted all the 12 Ku band transponders on Insat 4A. But Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has assured them 11 transponders on the satellite which is set for launch in August-September. All the 12 Ku band transponders on 4A are booked. A backup facility is made with Insat 4C, if there is a launch problem with 4A," says a source.

Kalanithi Maran's Sun Direct, meanwhile, has booked four - six transponders in the initial phase on 4B or 4C. A source in Isro says Insat 4B is likely to launch in the second or third quarter of 2006, after the launch of 4C.

DTH providers can beam around 12 channels per transponder, depending on their compression technology. The availability of transponder space would limit the channel offerings from the DTH service providers. Insat 4A and Insat 4B have a capacity of 12 Ku band and 12 C-band transponders each. Insat 4C, on the other hand, has just 12 Ku band transponders.

Dish TV and Doordarshan's DD Direct use the NSS 6 satellite for their DTH services.

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