Wednesday, July 12, 2006

INSAT-4C Satellite Failure Big Blow to Indian Broadcasters

July 11. The Business Standard of India is today reporting the failure of the launch of the INSAT-4C by the Indian Space Research Organisation.

The much-hyped communications satellite is a setback to the broadcasting companies in India, which would have otherwise benefited in delivering direct-to-home TV (DTH) broadcasting.

Also, this is likely to delay the launch of some other satellites originally planned by the ISRO.

The newspaper says the blow to the DTH industry could not be estimated but the broadcasting industry believes that it could delay the launch schedule of operators like Tata Sky DTH and Sun TV DTH platforms.

Similarly, for existing broadcasters and DTH services providers, who were planning to launch new digital broadcast channels and services the INSAT-4C could spell bad news. The satellite was to have boosted DTH and VSAT sectors with additional transmission facilities and bandwidth.

“The existing players like Doordarshan that could have migrated, would have to continue on their current satellite. The plans of DTH entrants like Sun TV would certainly get delayed until they put together arrangements for another private satellite or until the government hires another one,” said an expert.

Sun TV is believed to be depending heavily on INSAT-4C, the heaviest satellite India has ever attempted to put in space — to roll out its DTH venture. The second entrant that could be affected is Tata Sky, the 80:20 joint venture between the Tata Group and STAR. A Tata Sky official refused to comment while Sun TV executives could not be reached for comments.

Zee TV with its Dish TV, which currently has a viewership of 1.2 million, does not foresee any negative impact on its DTH business. “We have not booked any bandwidth on the satellite. We’ll continue operating through out current satellites,” said Sunil Khanna, chief executive officer, Dish TV.

INSAT-4C, which was equipped with 12 high power Ku-band transponders, was expected to provide India with a capacity primarily for direct-to- home TV broadcasting. It had a design life of 10 years.

Besides DTH, the 2.2 tonne satellite was also designed to provide services like digital satellite news gathering, digital picture transmission, meteorological imaging and services for the National Informatics Service.

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