AIR Plans To Offer Pvt Players Uplinking To WorldSpace

New Delhi: | Updated: Mar 13 2002, 05:30am hrs
After putting in place an infrastructure-sharing model for private FM operators, All India Radio (AIR) is planning a similar arrangement for the WorldSpace radio players. WorldSpace is a digital satellite radio platform with three beams AsiaStar, AfriStar and AmeriStar spanning the world.

Although the AIR channel will start with uplinking from Singapore, to be able to beam its signal through the WorldSpace platforms Asia -Star satellite, it is likely to be allowed shortly to uplink from the country itself. Not only that, AIR is planning to offer the facility of uplinking from the country to other broadcasters on the WorldSpace platform as well, according to AIR Resources head HO Srivastava.

Were in the process of getting government sanction for uplinking from the AIR building itself for the WorldSpace service, Dr Srivastava told The Financial Express. Once such a sanction is granted, a revenue-sharing deal between AIR and WorldSpace will be worked out.

After uplinking from the country is allowed, AIR would have two separate programming line-ups one for India and another for the rest of the South Asian region covered by AsiaStar. Among the countries to be covered by this beam are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nepal, UAE and Afghanistan. It will work out much cheaper for AIR and other broadcasters on the WorldSpace platform, when uplinking is allowed from India. Without specifying the financials of the deal, Dr Srivastava pointed out that the current process involves paying an annual rental for hiring space on a transponder of AsiaStar along with a fee to Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd for uplinking the channel from Singapore.

The AIR service on the WorldSpace platform will start on February 27, with programming coming from the existing FM1 and FM2 channels. Launching it more as a pilot project, AIR will put in place commercial plans a little later. Officials at the press conference announcing the launch of this service said migration from analogue to digital takes time. Its too early to estimate the commercial aspects, they added. Perhaps, once uplinking is allowed from India and two separate programming line-ups are introduced, marketing and advertising prospects will be clearer.