DoS, MIB prepare action plan to look into issues related to migration of broadcasters to Indian satellites

MUMBAI: The department of space (DoS) and the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) have prepared a joint action to look into the issues of broadcasters pertaining to the migration of TV channel transmission from foreign to Indian satellites.

Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Information & Broadcasting (I&B) minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that joint as well as one-to-one discussions were held between DoS, MIB, and broadcasters on the matter.

“A joint action plan is prepared by DOS and MoIB addressing the issues by Broadcasters and for protecting their interests,” he further added.

Rathore further stated that the whenever transponder capacity is available on Indian satellites, channel operators using foreign satellites are asked to migrate to Indian satellite capacity.

This, he said, is in compliance with the ‘Policy Framework for Satellite Communication in India’, approved by the Government.

He also noted that the broadcasters and channel/teleport operators have expressed their concerns to DoS and MIB with respect to the cost of migration, availability of suitable capacity in Indian satellite, licensing and regulatory aspects.

The broadcasters and distribution platform operators (DPOs) are against imposing any restrictions on foreign satellites for the purpose of broadcasting.

They contend that the foreign satellite operators provide long-term contract unlike the Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The broadcasters also argue that forcing them to move over to Indian satellites will lead to a breach of the contractual obligations which will have serious implications including payment of exit fees, long drawn litigation or arbitration.

Another argument is that the mandatory uplinking from India to Indian Satellites may cause scarcity of transponders and restrict the growth of the broadcast sector.

For Indian broadcasters who have a global footprint, it is better to use foreign satellites since the Indian satellites have a limited footprint.

In December 2017, Rathore had informed the Lok Sabha that the MIB has informed broadcasters, whose contracts with foreign satellite operators are expiring in the near future, to shift to indigenous satellites INSAT/GSAT as the required capacity is available.

As per the ‘Norms, Guidelines and Procedures for Implementation of the Policy Framework for Satellite Communication in India’, all licensed services operating in foreign satellites are to be shifted to Indian satellite as soon as indigenous capacity is available.

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