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Sun Direct, Reliance Big to jointly beam free channels
In a move that could help overcome bandwidth crunch and reduce operational costs, Direct-to-Home (DTH) companies Sun Direct and Reliance Big TV have started sharing their back-end infrastructure such as transponders to jointly beam the free-to-air (FTA) channels.

Both Sun Direct and Reliance Big are co-located on Measat 3 of the Malaysian satellite operator. The tie-up should help them reduce costs as the annual leasing charges for a transponder ranges is Rs 5-7 crore and a DTH firm can beam up to 30 channels from each transponder.

“We have been sharing transponders for the past one-and-half months and almost 60 channels including the FTA are jointly beamed,” said Mr Tony D'Silva, Chief Executive Officer of Sun Direct.

However, Mr D'Silva did not disclose the details of the arrangement nor the kind of cost savings it would accrue to the company. Industry sources said that both these players could be sharing two transponders on Measat 3.

“We are evaluating. We have some arrangement with them,” said Mr Sanjay Behl, CEO of Reliance Big TV, without divulging details.

Terming the collaboration as ‘path-breaking', an industry observer said it would help overcome bandwidth crunch besides lowering the costs for DTH players who are already saddled with huge losses as they still continue to subsidise acquisition of new customers.

Sun Direct has recently switched over to Measat 3, after its services were affected due to power supply glitch in some six of the seven transponders it had leased on INSAT-4B. “They are still using two of our transponders, but for additional capacity we are putting them on to other satellite,” said Mr K.R. Sridhara Murthi, Managing Director of Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Sun Direct has a subscriber base of 5.8 million, while smaller rival Reliance Big TV has a base of around 2.5 million.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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