India’s satellite policy slammed

India’s Auditor General has issued a damning report on the country’s strategy as far as its satellite business is concerned. The report is targeted on the nation’s Dept. Of Space (DoS), and states that it has failed to build sufficient capacity for the country’s fast-growing demand for broadcast bandwidth.

According to the report, the DoS failed to provide satellite capacity on domestic satellites, with only three out of the planned nine satellites launched during its eleventh 5 year plan. This was only 22 per cent of the target. The shortfall meant that broadcasters were forced to rent non-Indian capacity for their transmissions.The Auditor General says that the country is short of some 218 Ku-band transponders, which could easily carry some two thousand TV channels.

When it came to allocation of satellite capacity, the report also points out that Rupert Murdoch-backed DTH operator TataSky was extended benefits that other DTH operators did not enjoy.

The Auditor General’s report is scathing, saying that of 9 planned satellites only 3 materialised. Worse, the satellites that were built were not reliable and suffered technical problems. Sun DTH, Airtel and Reliance were three broadcasters which were forced to rent foreign capacity.

The report cites as an example India’s GSAT-8 which was three years late and then not earmarked for DTH broadcasting, and was ‘empty’ from July 2011 to Dec 2011.

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