Regulators

MIB, DoS nudge TV channel to use Indian satellites

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MUMBAI: In what could be interpreted as unease of doing business instead of ease of it, the Indian government is nudging TV channels to deal with Indian entities if they employ the services of foreign satellites. And, till that happens, permissions are being withheld or delayed.

A letter, dated mid January 2018, from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to a Madhya Pradesh-based company owning and operating a TV channel suggested that as the Department of Space (DoS) was refusing to entertain the company’s application for a name change since it was uplinking to a foreign satellite, a strategy review could be considered.

Pointing out that DoS was “not considering” the application for changes as the broadcaster stated in its application it would be using a foreign satellite—in this case, an ITU co-ordinated IS-17—MIB’s letter stated that DoS had also asked it to advise the applicant to “make effort to use” either an Indian satellite or teleports operating on domestic satellites.

The applicant broadcaster has been given 15 days’ time by the MIB to respond with an update on plans for usage of an Indian satellite instead of a foreign satellite.

The company in question had made an application for a name and logo change of the TV channel twice in November and December last year. In its present avatar, the channel is uplinked to IS-17 satellite and its license, according to the MIB letter, is valid till June 2018.

These developments are taking place even as broadcast carriage regulator TRAI is in the process of holding consultations with stakeholders on the issue of ease of doing business in the broadcasting sector and its final recommendations are awaited. Towards the fag end of 2017, the regulator also separately floated a consultation paper on the various issues related to uplink and downlink of TV channels in India and industry submissions are still to flow in as the deadline was extended by the TRAI.

Over the last 10 days, TRAI has had two separate meetings—one a closed-door meeting with broadcast, cable and radio sectors’ senior representatives and the other an open house discussion on National Telecom Policy 2018 in New Delhi—with the industry, wherein various regulatory irritants were, reportedly, highlighted, including the fact that use of foreign satellites could very well give an additional fillip to PM Modi’s dream of taking broadband services to every nook and corner of India.    

The regulator, in its recent recommendations on providing broadband and voice call services aboard airplanes in Indian airspace, had suggested that domestic and foreign satellites both be allowed to provide in-flight connectivity subject to certain security concerns being addressed. It is still to be seen whether the telecom ministry and the DoS-ISRO combine give their assent to the usage of non-Indian satellites, too.

Also Read :

2017 was a regulatory roller coaster and the ride continues

MIB reverts to earlier norms of seeking nod from ISRO on uplink/downlink of TV channels

ISRO stresses on indigenization; TRAI for Open Sky policy

MIB, TRAI allay industry fears on sat capacity leasing & content regulations
 

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