The US-based WorldSpace Corporation has brought into India unique audio systems which allow satellites to broadcast directly to small, portable audio receivers (direct-to-home) and can be carried anywhere. WorldSpace has already tied up with Asianet through its new outfit, RM Radio, Chennai-VRG Space Radio, All India Radio and the Mid-Day Group for relaying their services. The company has signed lease agreements for three years with each of these companies.
As per the agreements, WorldSpace will provide satellite platform uplinking the content and market the channels while the media groups will provide the content. It will get revenue from advertisements.
Plans are also on to market the PC card which can be fitted into computers for receiving the audio service. Each PC card, which is expected to hit the market in six months, will cost around $100.
A WorldSpace system is internationally recognised as the standard for satellite direct digital audio broadcasting. Specially manufactured receivers use the patented “STARMAN” chipsets to receive signals from the WorldSpace AfriStar and AsiaStar satellites.
In India, WorldSpace has tied up with BPL Ltd. to offer digital audio satellite receivers which will be sold under the brand name, Celeste, and will be available at retail outlets soon. Each of these receivers along with an antenna cost upwards of around Rs 7,000.
Every WorldSpace digital satellite receiver within the beam area receives a wide variety of programmes from international and regional broadcasters to unique programming created by WorldSpace.
For its Indian operations, the company has already announced its plans to pump in around $25 million in its marketing and expansion activities. It has already launched its services in seven cities in the country. In India, around 20,000 audio receivers have been sold so far. Samara expects the sales to touch a million mark in two years. Around 40 channels are expected to be relayed through the receivers soon, Samara said.
WorldSpace also offers corporate houses to own private audio channels, through which they can relay their programmes or market intelligence reports to their distributors or customers. This will allow them to relay programmes to their “closed user group”. This can be carried out through encryption of channels. The user can access the channel by typing in a password in the receiver.
WorldSpace has also tied up with Catvision, one of the largest cable-based players in the country, to relay audio programmes of the satellite major. Catvision has also been asked to negotiate with other large cable players for tie-ups with cable operators.