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DTH project to cost Star TV $350-400 million

04-April-2001
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DTH project to cost Star TV $350-400 million

Star TV has put the preliminary estimation of its direct-to-home (DTH) project cost at $350-400 million. A business plan will be finalised after it receives clarifications on several issues from the government. Star TV will request the government to allow a 12-month period to uplink from its external facility before it sets up an earth station in the country.

The guideline states that the licensee shall "establish and complete the installation of the uplink earth station in India including the monitoring facility and commission the DTH platform within 12 months from the date of issue of the SACFA clearance by the Wireless Planning & Coordination wing of the department of telecommunications after obtaining wireless operational license and would submit a report to the licensor in this regard."

It, however, does not mention an interim relaxation period for operational service from an outside uplinking facility, before the platform provider sets up a DTH uplink station in the country.

The uplinking and spectrum allocation (KU band frequency) fees are not mentioned in the DTH guidelines. Star TV also wants more clarity regarding "preferential treatment to Doordarshan channels."

According to the guideline, the DTH facility "shall not be used for other modes of communication, including voice, fax, data, communication and Internet, unless specific licence for these value-added services has been obtained from the competent authority." Of prime concern is also the stricture regarding the open-architecture set-top box, which will allow an inter-operable system. News Corp has installed closed-architecture set-top boxes worldwide.

The government has put a sectoral cap of 20 per cent on broadcasters in the DTH venture. Star TV has hired Arthur Andersen as the regulatory consultant for the DTH project.

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