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WorldSpace India has to wait longer for audio streaming on Web site
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New Delhi, June 9 Thanks to a quirky policy, WorldSpace India will have to wait until the notification of Government policy pertaining to satellite radio services, to offer streaming of audio music programmes on its Web site. WorldSpace needs the permission because the Web-based service proposed by it is seen as B2C (business-to-consumer) activity by the Government.

Under the current law, Web-based service requires the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance. Industry observers are somewhat mystified by this requirement for a radio service.

When contacted, Mr M. Sebastian, Managing Director (India & Middle East) of WorldSpace, said, “The recent FIPB directive to resubmit the application after the approval of the Satellite Radio policy will obviously delay our plans to deliver the channels via our Web site, which should have been a good thing for our customers, especially the Indian diaspora in different parts of the world. However, it appears that the policy will be finalised soon and we look forward to the same.”

WorldSpace India had stated that the programmes would be streamed, allowing it to receive payment (in lieu of subscriptions to the service) and revenue. It had also pointed out that the proposed service would only involve streaming but not support playback, storage or recording of music.

WorldSpace India has not been affected by the fate of WorldSpace Inc, which filed for bankruptcy protection in a US court last October.

The company wanted to promote the service, distribute and transmit content over various mediums in locations outside India as well. The proposal had come up for discussion in the previous meeting of the FIPB, but was deferred.

The Department of IT, whose views were sought on the issue, had noted that such service would amount to a business-to-consumer transaction, which is not allowed according to the FDI policy.

Earlier this year, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion had called a meeting with officials of various Ministries on the issue. During the meeting, it was discussed that Information and Broadcasting Ministry is proposing to come out with satellite radio service broadcasting guidelines. Given the situation, it was agreed that that permitting such a service at this point of time may not be advisable.

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