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DTH News : Indian govt urged to allow DTH ops to strike long-term deals with satellite ops
MUMBAI: The Indian government has been urged to allow the direct to home (DTH) operators to strike long-term deals with satellite operators in order to increase business certainty.

Currently, contracts for satellite capacity for DTH broadcasters are limited to a 3-year term by Indian government regulation.

Speaking at the ‘India Satcom Forum’ in New Delhi, CASBAA Regional Pay-TV industry association Chairman Joe Welch commented that the key to India’s next jump in the rankings, and to the realisation of the Prime Minister’s vision of taking India up to a Top-50 ranking, lies in improving business conditions in other sectors of the economy specifically satellite communications and broadcasting.

Welch observed that the broadcasting sector is heavily dependent on satellite links, and that the single most crucial measure the government could take would be to create conducive conditions for both the satellite operators and the broadcasters to be able to enter into long-term service agreements.

He also noted that the current short-term contracting is not an ideal situation for anyone right from consumer to the service provider.

“If a satellite operator does take the risk to launch a new satellite, despite having only short-term customer assurances, the cost of the uncertainty is passed on to the customers. Indian DTH broadcasters pay more than they should, for long-term businesses,” he stated.

Satellite services are also important to achieving the ‘Digital India’ dream – championed by Prime Minister Modi – as satellite services can help bring broadband and other related services to the hinterland of India, digitally connecting thousands of villages where cable or other modes of broadband delivery may pose logistic and financial challenges.

He commented, “Local distribution can be handled by 5G terrestrial networks, but satellites will play a vital supporting role, just as satellites support 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE networks today. Satellites will help extend terrestrial 5G networks to places they would not otherwise reach, which are essential for a digitally inclusive society.”

Welch also called for other reforms, including the development of a private-sector Indian space industry, opening of the teleport industry to foreign direct investment, and establishment of clear timelines and benchmarks for licensing actions by government agencies.

On the issue of auctioning satellite spectrum meant for broadcasting, he said that there is ample economic and legal rationale, and global experience to back the present practice of allocating satellite spectrum rather than auctioning.

“Given the nascent level at which the commercial satellite industry in India exists, auctioning of spectrum would constitute a big blow to the prospects for the industry – and for its contribution to national development,” he averred.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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