Addressing India Space Congress on the third day of the conference, I&B secretary Apurva Chandra said on Friday, “The ministry is going to deregulate uplinking for satellites in the new uplinking-downlinking guidelines. The guidelines will be revised soon, maybe within a month.” He said neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan can then use India as a hub for uplinking their TV channels.
On the vast broadcasting network of India, the I&B secretary said, “We have 898 channels that are broadcast by various private companies and Prasar Bharati throughout the country. These channels are not only spread out in India but also have a reach in the entire Asia, Middle East and some go right up to Europe and the UK. Of these 898 channels, 385 are news channels and 513 are non-news channels. The permission to uplinking and downlinking are given by the I&B ministry under the guidelines issued in 2011. Of the 898 channels, 532 use foreign satellites and 366 are using Indian satellites. The Indian satellites being used are Isro’s Gsat-30 and Gsat-17.”
The government has approved $102 million in remittances to foreign satellite operators over the last two years for providing uplinking and downlinking services to TV channels, he said. “In India, these satellites are available and we want more and more channels to use Indian satellites (so as to reduce remittances to foreign operators),” Apurva Chandra said.
Stressing on satcom being the key player in broadband, the I&B secretary said, “Normally geostationary satellites have been used for broadcast services. Now, Isro doesn’t plan to put out any new geo satellites and most of its work will be focussed on low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites. But LEO satellites have not been used for broadcasting services. But conversion is happening and LEO satellites will soon be used for broadcasting service in the near future. Cost-effectiveness will be the key to the success of satellite communication.”
People are nowadays watching more and more programmes on mobiles rather than TV as consumption over mobile is growing. New technologies are coming up that will allow direct to mobile broadcast. Prasar Bharati is working with IIT Kanpur on a programme on direct-to-mobile broadcast. In the next 2-3 years, people can use their mobile phones in remote areas to receive 200-300 channels with the help of local WiFi and conversion of spectrum, the I&B secretary said.
“In this year’s budget, the FM has announced that 200 new channels will be launched for education purpose. And we are working on that front too,” he said, adding “for proper use of the spectrum, it is now necessary that we move from MPEG 2 format to MPEG4 format.”