The International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (ITSO) comprises 149 member nations. The organisation is the holder of a United Nations mandate created in 1973 and was the forerunner of Intelsat.
Intelsat was privatised in 2001 and ITSO’s mission is to monitor the performance of Intelsat’s public service obligations and to safeguard the Parties’ Common Heritage. Intelsat was required to fund ITSO.
However, Intelsat is now in Chapter 11 reconstruction and a dispute broke out earlier this year with Intelsat and ITSO failing to agree how much ITSO was costing to operate.
ITSO’s DG/CEO Patrick Masambu has called for a General Assembly of ITSO to be held next June in Washington DC to discuss the organisation’s future, and whether it should disband or be restructured as a much smaller operation.
ITSO, in a story broken by Space Intel Report, continues to maintain Intelsat has a legal obligation to maintain funding and this position is based on an agreement between Intelsat and ITSO signed in 2013 and which set a funding ceiling of $1.8 million annually. ITSO has subsequently asked for almost $2 million a year which prompted Intelsat to undertake an examination of ITSO’s accounts where it was alleged that over-spending had occurred.
Intelsat argues that over the past eight years its revenues have shrunk around $100 million each year, and it is time for – essentially – ITSO to tighten its belt. Intelsat senior staff also argue that its obligation to ITSO may not be quite as firm as ITSO claims.
Intelsat has offered to continue funding ITSO until June next year at a rate of $50,000 per month.