DTH entrants scramble for scarce transponders



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The DTH war in the country, which ranks as the world’s third largest television market, is heading for the stars.India’s new DTH ventures are scrambling for precious transponder space as satellite scarcity looms large. Reliance’s Blue Magic, Bharti, Doordarshan’s DD Direct and Sun TV’s Sun Direct are in the race to acquire as many as possible of the 24 Ku-band transponders on Insat 4B and Insat 4CR, to be launched in March-April, 2007 and July-Aug, 2007 respectively.
Considering that each one is expected to offer around 120 channels, they need at least 7-10 transponders each. There aren’t that many available till the end of 2007, at least. Each transponder is capable of providing between 15 and 30 channels depending on its frequency capacity.Currently, there are only two satellites with a pan-India footprint capable of providing the Ku band required for DTH services—Insat 4A and the Netherlands-based SES Global-owned NSS6, both of which are booked between TataSky (all 12 on 4A) and DD Direct (5 on NSS6) and Dish TV (7 on NSS6). NSS6 is an international satellite with a pan-Asia presence and consists of 50 Ku band transponders.
Sources in Dish TV said, each transponder is capable of providing around 25 channels and the cost of renting a transponder is around a million dollars a year.
Due to the exorbitant international satellite transponders cost and few Indian satellites with Ku band capability there is a severe scramble for satellite transponders over Indian skies. Unconfirmed reports suggest that communication and information technology minister, Dayanidhi Maran’s brother Kalanithi Maran’s Sun TV has divided Insat 4B’s 12 available transponders with DD.

ISRO sources said that Insat 4B is identical to the 2005-launched Insat 4A and will be followed by the launch of Insat 4CR in August. Insat 4CR is a downgraded version Insat 4C which failed on launch in June 10, 2006. It has lesser number of transponders than Insat 4A. With new players like Reliance with its blue magic brand of DTH services and Bharti gearing up to enter the DTH arena and the limited number of transponders available at present, one can only wait to see what happens next.