Tata Sky Might Sue ISRO For Delaying Transponder Allocation Says CEO

Direct to Home television service provider Tata Sky is thinking of suing India’s space agency over a delay in allocating extra transponder space.

Tata Sky“In 2007, one year after our launch, we asked for 12 more transponders. We should have got those by 2009. But the launch of GSAT 10 kept getting delayed. In September, 2012, the GSAT 10 was launched; it went into orbit and was tested. But today in June, 2013, seven months after the satellite was launched, we still haven’t been given the 12 transponders,’ said Harit Nagpal, MD & CEO, Tata Sky in an interview with Business standard

Under the original deal signed between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the DTH provider, the space agency has to allocate additional transponders within 2 years upon request.

Indian DTH providers that have been using Indian satellites for transmission have moved on to foreign satellites citing technical snags with Indian ones. DTH operators like Dish Tv, Sun Direct and Airtel are all now on foreign satellites.

The government is also taking on revenue losses on account of this. ISRO stands to lose around $1 million per month in rent from Tata Sky, Nagpal said.

The GSAT 10, the heaviest satellite India has ever launched, was hailed as major step to improve communication, DTH and navigation services for India with its 12 Ku-band, 12 C-band and 6 extended C-band transponders. Until its launch, ISRO had been leasing foreign transponders to meet Indian requirements.

Tata Sky has had to restrict the number of channels it airs, an advantage its competitors have now, because it chose to stay on with Indian satellites. Changing to a foreign satellite is also not an easy option as its is not a mere matter of retuning but it also involves physical repositioning of subscriber’s antennas.

Legal option is the final door Tata Sky plans to knock on.

Meanwhile the company is migrating to MPEG4 technology enabled set top boxes, which will help them increase capacity by around 70% for now, the only way it can match up with its competitors.

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