Friday, April 17, 2009

I & B Ministry grants 3 years to World Space for new licensing - Alokesh Gupta, DX-India

Wednesday - Apr 15, 2009 Correspondent | Mumbai
Popular satellite radio service provider World Space India has sought
five-year time to migrate into the new licensing regime once it is
World Space, in a official communiqué to the Information and Broadcasting
Ministry, said that the company would divest 26 per cent equity in favour of
Indian equity investors, within a five-year timeframe. This will be in
consonance with the new licensing regime proposed by the government.
However, the government has offered World Space India, a three-year deadline
to migrate into the new licensing regime. The company is a wholly owned
subsidiary of World Space Asia based in Singapore.
At present, World Space provides 34 radio channels in India that include BBC
World and London-based WRN news channels. The government foresees entry of
topnotch foreign players into the virgin satellite radio services market
once the licensing regime being considered by union cabinet is put in place.

World Space was launched with the intention of providing digital satellite
radio primarily in the emerging markets of Asia and Africa. The radio
services are provided on a subscription basis and the radio services are
uninterrupted because it has no spots. The only source of income is
Already, US-based Sirius XM Radio, the largest satellite radio player
internationally, has evinced keen interest in making a foray into Indian
satellite radio market. Sirius that has operations in North America, Canada
and Alaska had acquired XM in July 2008.
The satellite radio networks will allow subscribers access to programmes
relayed worldwide via fixed, portable or vehicular radio sets. Opening up
satellite radio to new domestic and foreign players will widen choice of
programmes already the subscribers have through AM & FM radio broadcast of
All India Radio (AIR).
As per draft cabinet note circulated by Information and Broadcasting
Ministry, the 74 per cent FDI cap will be set for Satellite radio operators,
on par with those on other platform services like teleports and Direct to
Home (DTH).
The bidding for licenses to enter the satellite radio space may be held once
the current Lok Sabha elections are completed, an official said on condition
of anonymity. The government also foresees a chunk of FM radio broadcasters
offering satellite services, as most of the licence norms would be similar
between the two.
FM radio service providers cover 35.50 per cent population and a
geographical area of 24.41 per cent. About 245 FM channels are operational
in the country across 87 cities. As per policy formulation under
consideration, FM services may be extended to another 210 cities.

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