The non-availability of transponders on satellites has hit the expansion plans of not only existing direct-to-home players such as DD Direct Plus and Dish TV but also new entrants such as Sun Direct, Reliance Bluemagic and the Bharti group.
Alongside the new entrants, Prasar Bharati and Dish TV are also waiting for the launch of Insat-4B series of communication satellites, the first of which will be launched this March.
The launch of Insat 4C series had failed last July. The launch of Insat-4B is likely to add 12 transponders, which are enough to host 170 channels for the DTH players.
However, with Sun TV booking seven transponders in Insat-4B and DD booking five, there is hardly any extra available in the market for companies such as Reliance and Bharti even if they want to start their services.
They might have to wait and hope for the launch of the second satellite in the Insat 4 series which is slated sometime in the end of the year. DTH operators are dependent on the transponder capacity of these communication satellites, which have 12 ku-band transponders, each capable of hosting 12-15 channels.
The additional transponders will help the expansion plans of DD Direct Plus, which is planning to increase its offerings from 30 to 75 shortly.
Currently, DD Direct is hosted by US communications satellite NSS-6 which also hosts the DTH service of Dish TV.
However, Dish TV, which currently offers 160 digital channels, finds itself stuck and unable to launch new channels because of the lack of transponders.
Says a senior Dish TV executive: "Once Insat-4B is launched, Prasar Bharati will vacate the four transponders on NSS-6 which will help roll out a number of value-added service to our offerings."
The launch failure of Insat-4C last year had derailed the DTH plans of Sun Direct, Sri Lankan broadcaster Rupavahini along side VSNL and National Informatics Centre."DTH services will be given preference over other companies as the failure of Insat-4C last July derailed the DTH plans of Sun Direct and others," a government official said.
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