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Trai to set norms for satellite radio

01-October-2004
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Trai to set norms for satellite radio

After almost four years of its presence in India, regulatory norms are being considered for satellite radio.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) would study guidelines across the world, and perhaps issue recommendations for the satellite radio segment in the country, said a Trai official.

“We have to first see how rest of the world controls and regulates satellite radio,” he said. At present, satellite radio doesn’t fall under any Indian media policy, admitted an official with the information and broadcasting ministry.

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.

As an industry analyst said, the government may be trying to bring satellite radio on par with satellite TV, as far as policy guidelines go.

Also, 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 in private FM radio, but satellite radio is free to carry news.

But an expert pointed out: “It is unlikely for the Indian government to have any control over a satellite radio platform, if it is being uplinked from another country.”

In other words, the rules for satellite radio will be those of the country from where it is being uplinked.

Director (enterprise sales), WorldSpace, Pawan Gandhi told FE that the regulatory exercise has been mobilised by Trai quite recently. WorldSpace and Trai officials are likely to meet next week over the issue of satellite radio.

Among other international regulators, Federation Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines for satellite radio are considered significant. FCC rules require satellite radio platforms in the US — XM and Sirius — to exclusively provide national programming, according to published reports.

That is, to get permission, players must have national, instead of local content. According to FCC licence rules, satellite service must air only national shows. But, some companies have started airing local programmes nationwide, in order to meet the guidelines.

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