US-based consulting firm Telecomm Strategies is likely to be appointed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for recommending norms in the satellite radio segment. It would be a World Bank-supported project, according to sources in Trai. Telecomm Strategies would be expected to give an overview of the international scenario in satellite radio and also suggest a growth path for the India market.
Currently, there are no regulatory norms for satellite radio in India. Significantly, even in the US, there’s no government or regulator’s control over content in satellite radio. But, US satellite radio stations need to obtain licences from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
“Unlike cable TV in India, satellite radio must grow in a more organised manner,” said a Trai official. That’s the objective behind engaging a consultant for the segment. Telecomm Strategies would also focus on the implications of having more players in satellite radio.
At present, WorldSpace is the only satellite radio platform available in India. The country receives satellite radio signal through WorldSpace’s AsiaStar satellite, and it is uplinked from Singapore.
Among other satellite radio players are Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio, which operate in the US.
An industry analyst said, the government may be trying to bring satellite radio on par with satellite TV, as far as policy guidelines go. It may be trying for uniformity within the radio segment also. At this point, even as there are norms for private FM radio, there’s none for satellite radio. For instance, news and current affairs programmes are not allowed on private FM radio, but satellite radio is free to carry news.
Trai would finalise its recommendations for the satellite radio segment, based on inputs provided by Telecomm Strategies.
Recently, Trai had appointed Ernst & Young and Media Partners Asia (MPA) for advice on digitisation of cable TV in the country. While Ernst & Young will focus on costing and technical aspects, MPA has the mandate of analysing the international trends, according to a Trai official.