Making India an Uplinking Hub
Why in News?
- This article discusses various policy interventions towards making India an uplinking hub.
- In November 2022, the Union Cabinet approved the policy guidelines for the uplinking and downlinking of television channels from India.
- The consolidated policy guidelines are aimed at making India the hub of uplinking as they allow Indian teleports to uplink foreign channels.
- An uplink refers to the link from a ground station up to a satellite, a downlink is the link from a satellite down to one or more ground stations or receivers.
- In 2021, the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, were amended to include a statutory mechanism for the redressal of grievances and complaints of viewers relating to content broadcast by television channels in accordance with the provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
- The amended Rules bring in a strong institutional system for redressing grievances and make broadcasters and their self-regulating bodies accountable and responsible.
Cable Television in India:
- Television started in India in September 1959 and broadcasting was solely under the control of the state till the early 1990s.
- Cable television arrived in India in the 1990s and used foreign satellites to transmit and broadcast. Cable television networks mushroomed haphazardly, and foreign television networks invaded our culture through their programmes.
- India’s first private television channel, Zee TV, was launched in October 1992 with the help of some Non-Resident Indians in Hong Kong who took an idle AsiaSat satellite transponder on lease for five years to uplink programmes.
- In the next few years, Business India Television; Asia Television Network and Jain TV also began operating and flew out tapes every day to Hong Kong, Singapore or Moscow for uplinking.
- Using the Russian satellite was cheaper than using the satellite in Hong Kong or Singapore. This made broadcasting an expensive and cumbersome affair in the 1990s.
Uplinking from India:
- In order to regulate the industry and to make registration of cable operators mandatory, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 was brought in.
- Indian broadcasters were allowed to uplink from India through the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL).
- But it was only in 2000 that the first licence to set up a teleport — an earth station facility from where TV signals can be uplinked to a geostationary satellite was granted.
- The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), Government of India, notified the ‘Guidelines for Uplinking from India’ in July 2000 and private broadcasters got permission to set up their own earth stations and to uplink.
- The first licence was given to TV Today Network Limited in November 2000 which started the channel, Aaj Tak, on December 31, 2000.
- Aaj Tak became the first Indian private television channel to uplink signals from its own earth station.
- In 2001, five broadcasters set up their earth stations with the facility to uplink.
- The MIB issued uplinking and downlinking policy guidelines in 2011 for private satellite TV channels and teleports.
- In 2022, the government amended the policy guidelines in light of the difficulties posed by the development of broadcasting technology, changes in market scenarios, and other operational developments in the broadcasting industry.
- The guidelines aim to create a conducive environment in line with the principle of ease of doing business on a sound regulatory framework and make India a teleport hub for other countries.
- Neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan can also use India as a hub for uplinking their television channels.
- The Union government had approved USD 102 million in remittances to foreign satellite operators over the last two years for providing uplinking and downlinking services to television channels.
- Uplinking using Indian satellites will greatly reduce these foreign remittances.