Sunday, December 27, 2009

Satellite Radio : WorldSpace India Caput Finished Dec31

WorldSpace India: Caput Finished December 31
Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia has learned that the final nail in the WorldSpace coffin may have been hammered home in India. There the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry is unlikely to proceed with a satellite radio policy. Why? Because Worldspace India has announced that it is to close its operations in the country from December 31. India was the bright spot in the worldwide network of the pioneer of satellite radio with its own network of satellites. WorldSpace, which started its service in India in the year 2000, was operating with a wink and a nod from the Indian authorities. Some 4.5 Lakh in subscribers (450,000) in India will be affected by the abrupt announcement. Worldspace India, representing 95 per cent of WorldSpace's worldwide subscriber base was financed by its United States parent company WorldSpace Inc which has been under bankruptcy protection since October 2008. I am not sure whether the India announcement is a legal move prior to its operations being taken over by another broadcast outfit - thought to be Liberty Media Corporation which is thought to be buying many of the worldwide assets of WorldSpace Inc (but not India) for just US$18 million. Such a deal is likely to include the WorldSpace satellites and their support equipment. Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia notes that there are three obviously negative outcomes from WorldSpace India's decision. - 1. Some 300 local employees located in Bangalore have lost their jobs.
- 2. The customized WorldSpace receivers may well go to waste. And,
- 3. No subscription refunds. In the WorldSpace main website, there is the announcement that says that the investor buying WorldSpace assets is not including India operations. The notice advises subscribers in India that they may have recourse to get a refund from US bankruptcy proceedings. Details.... say that subscription money paid by Indian customers is not being refunded. The sums involved are likely to be too small to begin with to make it worthwhile for subscribers to follow up in another jurisdiction half way around the world.

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