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DTH operators require 68 additional transponders, says Venkaiah Naidu

MUMBAI: Direct-to-home (DTH) operators require 68 additional transponders to accommodate more television channels on their platform.

“As on date, there is a committed demand from the DTH service providers for 68 more transponders,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu.

The requirement of satellite transponder capacity for DTH services has been increasing with increase in demand for high-definition (HD) channels. Until 31 March 2017, the number of satellite transponders (36 MHz equivalent) in use for DTH stood at 104.

This is a jump from 87 transponders in use until 31 March 2016. The transponders in use for the previous three financial years oscillated between 73 in 2016 and 78 in 2016.

“As intimated by the Department of Space (DoS), the requirement of satellite transponder capacity for DTH services has been increasing with increase in demand for HD channels. The total satellite transponder capacity used by the DTH operators presently stands at 104 transponders,” said Naidu.

Providing the growth of usage of satellite transponders by DTH service providers in India over the last five years, Naidu informed the Lok Sabha that the demand had grown from 76 transponders in March 2013 to 104 in March 2017.

Naidu also said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had on 29 March issued recommendations on infrastructure sharing in television broadcasting and distribution sector. The objectives of these recommendations were to enable a policy environment for facilitating sharing of infrastructure in the TV broadcasting and distribution sector on voluntary basis, the minister added.

Infrastructure sharing is expected to enhance available distribution network capacities, leading to reduction in capital and operative expenditure for the service providers, thus bringing down the price of broadcasting services to the subscribers. In addition, it would lower the entry barriers for new service providers and provide more space on broadcasting distribution networks for niche channels.

He also stated that the MIB had not received any proposal from DTH operators for sharing of satellite transponders and earth station facilities with other DTH players and distribution platforms.

Currently, all six DTH operators uplink the signals of TV channels to different satellites located at different orbital slots. The majority of channels transmitted by the DTH operators are replicated across multiple platforms.

This creates capacity constraints and a significant cost burden for each operator, making the service expensive. In this scenario, enabling sharing of infrastructure may address the issue of demand–supply mismatch of transponders, Naidu said.