The Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI) has registered a strong protest to the move by satellite operator WorldSpace to get license for L-Band terrestrial repeater from the I&B Ministry for the A+ and A category cities.
In a letter written to the Ministry, AROI coordinator Rajiv Mishra has demanded not to provide license to WorldSpace, which is in direct conflict with the interest of the nascent FM radio industry in India. “We fail to understand why the Government of India is working on WorldSpace application even when a proper guideline on satellite radio in India is still not available,” Mishra has written to the I&B Minister.
Through seeking permission to install repeaters in individual cities, WorldSpace is targeting the subscribers on the move, especially car owners. “Satellite radio cannot enter terrestrial segment by any means. Our main target audiences are people on the move. If WorldSpace captures this segment, then this audience will not return to FM radio,” said Mishra.
“This move of the government could be suicidal for the FM radio industry because only a few players are experienced ones, it will be like killing the baby in the womb for the budding FM radio industry. The government must to do something to protect the FM operators,” commented Rajiv Masih of Rajasthan Patrika, who is handling its FM radio division.
When contacted, Shishir Lall, MD, WorldSpace, said, “We have not done anything viciously. We had only requested the government if we could enter the mobile radio category. The government said that you need to wait for the satellite radio policy, so we are waiting for the policy to come.”
When asked if this move would be in direct conflict with the FM radio industry, Lall said, “World over satellite radio is allowed on moving vehicles and it is happily co-existing with FM radio. Then we have a subscription based revenue model whereas FM radio is free, so I don’t see any conflict of interest here. At the end of the day, it is the content which will decide what the audience really wants to listen.”