Friday, April 17, 2009

India Plans New DAB, Sat Radio Services - Alokesh Gupta, DX India

Recent moves by India's government to provision spectrum for both terrestrial DAB and satellite radio services suggest a strong commitment toward diversification and expansion of digital media there. 
According to an April 7 report published by Tenders Info, India's telecom regulators plan to test the DAB waters by allocating spectrum in Band III (174-240MHz) for initial construction and operation of DAB+ multiplexes in four major metro areas, with eventual rollouts elsewhere across the country. 
News of new satellite radio allocations appeared in an April 12 edition of the Hindustan Times, where the authors claim their government will make 10-year leases of spectrum available for satellite radio operations on a revenue-sharing basis. The article also notes that the new service will be  subscription-driven with promotional content limited to 2 minutes/hour to protect existing ad revenue streams for domestic FM broadcasters. New licensees will also be required to uplink from within India and provide 1 hour of public service programming daily.
Satellite radio is not entirely new to India. World Space Satellite Radio, a U.S.-based firm now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, had been allowed to market its services there since 1998. But the service, uplinked from Singapore, failed to attract significant numbers of subscribers. 
Both announcements come fresh on the heels of the adoption of DRM by All India Radio earlier this year for use on national and international MW/HF narrowband broadcast channels. India Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura was quoted as suggesting that the moves are but a small part of a complex and intricate initiative currently underway to allocate the nation's spectrum.
Radio is still a primary medium in the fast developing Indian subcontinent where government broadcast monopolies dominated until the last decade or so. With hundreds of indigenous languages and dialects in use, a considerably more diffuse and diverse group of radio services, ranging from national commercial channels to low power FM community stations is rapidly emerging.

Alokesh Gupta
New Delhi, India


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