Space TV, the 80:20 ku band direct-to-home (DTH) joint venture of the Tata Group and STAR India, has received the long-awaited government approval. This comes close on the heels of the clearance given to south India's television giant Sun TV's DTH venture, Sun Direct TV.
Space TV announced in an official communiqué on Tuesday that it received the 'Letter of Intent' (LoI) from the Information & Broadcasting Ministry. The clearance from the I&B Ministry will be followed by a formal licence that will enable Space TV to launch its services by the end of 2005.
Commenting on the development, Vikram Kaushik, Chief Executive, Space TV, said, "We are very excited that the clearance has been awarded. We are fully committed to investing in building a high quality digital infrastructure in the country."
The good news reached Kalanithi Maran's Sun TV a little before it did to the STAR Group, with the southern player receiving clearance from the Company Affairs Ministry. Sun's application had faced problems earlier in the year with the Company Affairs Ministry after it was forwarded by the I&B Ministry. However, media reports later quoted Company Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta saying "no legal issue is involved in the Sun TV application. We have cleared and returned it to the I&B Ministry."
In the case of Space TV, the venture had been waiting since 2002 for launching in the Indian market. The ministerial nod comes after numerous meetings between STAR's top management - national and international -- with the government.
Sun TV too saw a rough patch in the initial examination of the application, when the I&B Ministry found that its proposal did not adhere to the guidelines stipulated for DTH licensing.
With today's development, the DTH scene has suddenly perked up. The Star and Sun DTH ventures would be in addition to Zee TV's DishTV and DD's Direct TV, in effect meaning a significant blessing to the Indian television industry and viewers.