New Delhi: After the intervention of Prime Minister’s Office, Indian television channels operating from foreign satellites are likely to get relaxation of three years for shifting their operations to an Indian satellite. The Narendra Modi government proposes to ease its directive asking private television channels to shift from foreign satellites to Indian satellites to continue their operations in the country.
Sources stated that the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has written to the information and broadcasting ministry seeking easing of norms for broadcasting companies that have long term contracts with foreign satellite operators. Sources stated that the Isro has suggested the I&B ministry should accord satellite clearance for a period of three years to companies which have long-term contracts with foreign satellite operators. The letter came after the Prime Minister’s Office is learnt to have directed the Isro to look into the matter after repeated demands by the industry.
This newspaper had first reported on April 8 that private television channels may soon have to shift from foreign satellites to Indian satellites and the government intends to offer “incentives” to broadcasters for this move. The department of space and I&B ministry had earlier unsuccessfully tried to persuade broadcasters to shift their operations to Indian satellite platforms due to security concerns.
It is learnt that this move comes as the department of space and Isro reviewed their transponder capacities to cater to the needs of the Indian broadcasting sector. It was felt that Isro should improve its transponder strength and then ask the Indian broadcasters to move their channels from foreign satellites to Indian satellites in a phase wise manner.
A review also found that Isro would not be able to meet the technical requirements of the broadcasters which also include the footprint and do not have disaster requirement plan in case of technical/power failures hit their transponders, sources stated.
Isro has formed a committee to reach out to the broadcasters to undertake consultation and understand the end-user requirements.
Currently, about 80 per cent of all Indian broadcasters are operating on foreign satellites. Out of 725 active channels, only about 150 are on Indian satellites.
It is learnt that as per a review of the policy on broadcasting permissions the government wants more channels to operate through Indian satellite platforms after repeated concerns were expressed about the security aspects of channels operating from foreign satellite platforms.