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ISRO/DoS relent on use of foreign satellites; MIB starts processing applications

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MUMBAI: India’s Department of Space, overseeing the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has eased up on its hitherto hard stance on Indian TV channels and teleports using foreign satellites’ capacity --- if the Indian customer has a long-term contract.

In a communication to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), DoS/ISRO combine has advised that applications may be processed --- for the time being --- without insistence on migration to an Indian satellite or asking the time frame for doing it. 

According to government sources, it has been suggested to MIB that it could start granting permissions to TV channels proposing to use foreign satellites for uplinking purpose if they are going in for a contract of three years or more. If an applicant company, having existing government permissions, has long-term capacity contract on foreign satellites, it too should be allowed to continue with its services.

However, there’s a caveat to ISRO/DoS’ latest softening of stance. Any company that has existing permission from MIB to start a TV channel or communications service (like teleports) and is using foreign satellites should give the Indian space agency at least three-month notice for space on an Indian satellite when its contract with a foreign satco is ending. Same holds true for all fresh permissions for TV channels given by the government.

The DoS/ISRO communication referred to over 35 applications that were kept pending by MIB as Department of Space had been insisting on migration to Indians satellites. MIB had also issued letters earlier this year asking companies seeking name change, for example, as to when they proposed to shift to an Indian satellite. Out of these cases highlighted by ISRO/DoS, at least 10 have long-term contracts for capacity on foreign satellites.

Last month MIB cleared applications of three new TV channels in Indian languages under Aastha brand name. The Aastha channels are owned by a company controlled by Balkrishna, a close associate of yoga-guru-turned-entrepreneur Ramdev who’s Patanjali FMCG venture is giving even multinational companies sleepless nights, if revenues and sales growth are to be believed.

Government nods recently were also given for name and logo change to some big broadcasting companies. Incidentally, some of the Aastha TV channels use foreign satellites for uplinking activity.

In recent times, ISRO has been facing minor setbacks regarding launch of communications satellites, including Gsat-11, which returned to India just few days before launch from a European launchpad. 

Still, it needs to be seen how long the government continues allowing Indian customers facilities of foreign satellites.

MIB Expands Areas for Online Applications

In a new advisory put out yesterday, MIB has expanded the services for which applications could be made online, something that the government has been insisting on in an effort to reduce processing time.

The online module for submitting applications on www.broadcastseva.gov.in extends to cases relating to change in details of a company, annual permission fee for teleport companies and company-specific changes being sought to be made by teleports.

The government has also reiterated an earlier stand of accepting online payments for various processing and annual permission fee, adding such payments should be made on time failing which action could be taken against companies concerned under existing regulations.

Also Read :

MIB clears TV channel applications; Rathore calls for stakeholder meets

MIB, DoS nudge TV channel to use Indian satellites

MIB says ISRO upping capacity to facilitate migration from foreign satellites

Comment: 3 areas that new MIB minister Rathore needs to target

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