Economy

DTH satellite services: Dept of Space ‘lost out to foreign players’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 28, 2014

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Audit report says agency failed to launch as planned, mismanaged available capacity





The Comptroller & Auditor General has said the inability of the Department of Space (DOS) to launch its communication satellites as planned and failure to utilise available satellite capacity led to a competitive advantage for foreign players.

In its report on Management of Satellite Capacity for Direct-to-Home (DTH) services, it said this led most of the service providers -- Reliance, Videocon, Sun DTH and Airtel -- to move to foreign satellites.

It pointed out that the out of the nine satellites with 218 Ku band transponders planned for launch during 11th five year plan, DOS could only launch three satellites with 48 Ku bank transponders, meeting only 22 per cent of the target. “Out of the total 76 Ku band transponders used by Indian DTH operators (July 2013) only 19 transponders about 25 per cent belonged to Indian satellites,” the report said.

Migration expenses

Though, DOS arranged foreign satellite capacity for Indian DTH industry as a short-term measure, the DTH service providers who moved to foreign satellites did not come back to Indian satellites as it would have incurred migration expenses for them.

It also said that foreign players gained by being ready at the opportune time to place their satellites in Indian skies for providing DTH services in India. CAG has also pointed out that, “Tata Sky was allocated satellite capacity on INSAT 4A out of turn, though Doordarshan was first in order of precedence.”

Policy

Tata Sky was also granted exclusive rights over India’s prime orbital slot of 83 degree east, which was in violation of SATCOM policy that clearly stated that satellite capacity to non-government users was to be given on non-exclusive basis, it noted.

It added that DOS’ transponder lease agreements did not safeguard financial interests of the Government.

Published on November 28, 2014

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