Help For Channels To Shift Content From Foreign To Indian Satellites

Private channels will be given details of Indian satellites such as their capacity and reach so that they can make an informed choice. So far, the government has not set any deadline for the channels to make the switch.

As the union government’s directive to private channels to shift from foreign to Indian satellites begins to kick into effect, the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) and the department of space (DOS) will prepare an action plan for those channels that beam content overseas so that their footprint abroad is not curtailed by the move, people aware of the development said.

According to an official, the MIB has received representations from the broadcasting industry that moving from foreign to Indian satellites could impact the broadcast of their programmes abroad and in some cases also result in breach of contract, given that some channels have signed long-term agreements with the overseas companies.

“There are many channels that air their programmes in African countries and the Middle East; they may not be able to beam their signals if they shift to Indian satellites. So a joint action plan (by MIB and DOS) will be prepared on how to roll out the transfer from foreign satellites to Indian ones smoothly over the course of the next 10 years,” the official cited above said on condition of anonymity.

Private channels will be given details of Indian satellites such as their capacity and reach so that they can make an informed choice. So far, the government has not set any deadline for the channels to make the switch.

“While the idea is to shift all operations to Indian satellites, in case of specific difficulties they may be permitted to use the foreign satellites. By and large, small and regional channels want to shift to Indian satellites since it is cheaper and saves them the hassle of having to deal with foreign remittances, as the foreign companies have to be paid in their currency,” the official quoted above said.

Earlier this year, the union government announced that private television channels would have to switch to Indian satellite platforms for security reasons. Consequently, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was asked to improve its transponder strength so that the switch could take place in phases. A top executive at a leading news channel said on condition of anonymity that his company had entered long-term contracts (5-10 years) with international transponders (on foreign satellites) that have a wider footprint than existing Indian satellites.

“The shift will impact subscription revenue accrued in international markets,” said the person, without sharing specific details.

“Moreover, if the transfer were to take place, even set-top boxes will have to be reworked. So, if the government plans to implement this, they should do it in a phased manner.”

As of July, over 700 Indian broadcasters operate through foreign satellites while only 150 are on Indian satellites. – Hindustan Times

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