All DTH firms in talks to share satellite transponder space

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All DTH firms in talks to share satellite transponder space

Postby praveen1 » Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:30 am

Direct -to-home television service firms are in talks to share satellite transponder space with each other that will allow them to offer more channels without large investments while also ensuring glitches in their own transponder do not affect their services.

Taking a cue from an arrangement between Sun Direct and Big TV struck last year, other DTH companies are looking to replicate the telecom tower sharing model used by communication firms. While Dish TV and Tata Sky are in talks for a potential arrangement, Videocon d2h is negotiating with Airtel digital television for a similar deal, two persons familiar with the developments said. This could be crucial for loss-making DTH firms to cut costs in the future. Dish TV managing director Jawahar Goel said due diligence and technical deliberation are on for sharing infrastructure with rival firms but refused to share names of its potential partners. A Tata Sky spokesman declined comment.

But a person privy to the negotiations said the country's top two DTH players have been in talks for about 8-9 months to ink a disaster-recovery contract under which transponder space will be shared to beam channels to subscribers in case of technical snags in the companies' respective satellites. "This arrangement is more to protect business and consumer interest, though it involves several technical costs," the person said.

Separately Videocon d2h and Airtel digital television are also in talks for a deal, said another person close to the developments. In an email reply, Saurabh Dhoot, director, Videocon Group said: "We are in discussions with 2-3 operators to discuss the potential co-operation which two companies can do to make the service for their customers better and more reliable as well as better the economics of the business." Airtel digital television spokesman said the company does not comment on speculation.

Satellite transponders that are leased by DTH firms to beam television channels to subscribers are in short supply. But expanding capacity is key to delivering more channels besides adding high quality premium content to spruce up revenues. Sharing infrastructure allows DTH service firms to do this without having to lease a new transponder and also comes as an insurance for disaster risk management.

Last year, Sun TV's Sun Direct agreed to a deal where it switched to sending signals for some channels through Malaysian satellite Measat 3, which is used by Reliance ADA Group's Big TV. This was after its services were affected due to power supply problem in some transponders that Sun Direct had leased on INSAT-4B. This is a permanent agreement where Sun Direct and Big TV are beaming 60 channels jointly, said Sanjay Behl, CEO of Big TV.

"Sharing infrastructure could be one of the key pillars for the growth of the industry," he said. But a senior executive with a DTH company said that such a collaboration faces several technological challenges. "All DTH service providers use different technologies and such collaboration can happen only with others using the same set-top-box technology," he said.

Source: ET
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