Regulators

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

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NEW DELHI: At a time when one arm of the government is said to be exploring review of usage norms for satellite frequencies for users of satellite services, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has cancelled an earlier order --- which simplified clearances for uplinking and downlinking of TV channels on permitted teleports and satellites --- and reverted to an older tradition of also getting an okay from Department of Space (DOS), which could make the process lengthy.

In a recent official communiqué, MIB stated DOS observed that by not referring TV channels’ applications relating to uplink/downlink to it, certain “key aspects” provided by the applicant were “not getting examined” and which could “create interference issues and difficulties in coordination with Indian satellites” at a later stage.

Pointing out that a policy decision taken earlier by it has been reviewed

in the light of DOS observations, MIB added, “It has been decided to revert to the erstwhile practice of referring all applications, seeking uplinking permission/change of teleport and/or satellite in respect of TV channels, to DOS for its no-objection with reference to proposed satellite's coordination with Indian satellites.”

A prior nod from DOS for uplink/downlink of TV channels on teleports and satellites, already permitted by MIB, was considered “duplication” of the clearance process and, thus, done away with by MIB in February 2017 as part of PM Modi-led government’s bid to ease norms of doing business in India. DOS, managed directly by the Prime Minister’s Office, oversees activities of Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO), an organization responsible for Indian satellites.

MIB, while withdrawing its early-2017 order, said its decision comes into effect immediately.

Interestingly, according to government sources, Wireless, Planning and Co-ordination (WPC) division, under Ministry of Telecoms, is exploring a review of clearance norms for users of satellite services in India and also optimizing value of satellite frequencies.

At present, for a customer of satellite services, whether on Indian or foreign satellite, getting clearance for satellite capacity is a lengthy and time consuming process involving green signal from multiple government organizations, including DOS/ISRO and WPC.

Telecoms and broadcast regulator TRAI has suggested a couple of times, in lengthy set of recommendations, that with an explosion in communications services, it was time India ought to explore an Open Sky Policy relating to satellite services; especially in KU-band category.

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