New Delhi: The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has requested the department of space (DoS) to block the signals of an unauthorized direct-to-home service called Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) Ltd which is providing free-to-air (FTA) channels in India without permission from the ministry.
ABS Ltd is a global satellite operator headquartered in Bermuda. I&B ministry is the licensing authority for DTH broadcasting services in India.
In a written reply in Lok Sabha, minister of state for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore said that after consulting with the ministry of home affairs, the I&B ministry has requested the DoS to block the signals.
“This ministry consulted ministry of home affairs on the issue of unauthorized DTH service of ABS from security angle and its implication from national security perspective. The ministry of home affairs mentioned that the transmission of DTH service by ABS is without any application to the I&B ministry and not in line with the guidelines of ministry of I&B,” Rathore said.
There are six private DTH firms: Zee group-owned Dish TV India Ltd, Reliance BIG TV Ltd, Tata Sky Ltd, Videocon d2h Ltd, Sun DirectTV Pvt. Ltd and Bharti Telemedia Ltd. State broadcaster Doordarshan also runs a DTH platform called DD Free Dish, the only FTA satellite television service in India.
This move comes in the backdrop of the Telecom Regulatory of Authority of India (Trai) and private satellite channels urging the ministry and Doordarshan to look into unauthorized DTH firms operating in the Indian market without any licence from the government.
Recently, Doordarshan had also announced its plans to encrypt FTA signals for DD Free Dish so that they cannot be stolen by unauthorized operators. The broadcaster has already floated a tender for offering “security-locked” set-top-boxes across the country and is in the process of evaluating the responses.
Encryption will also help DD Free Dish to identify its subscribers which currently go unmapped and in turn will benefit private channels in selling these subscription numbers to advertisers and improve their revenue.
DD Free Dish which currently operates 80 channels on its platform is planning to add 24 new channels this year taking the total channel count to 104.