Monday, 5 December 2011

INSAT 2E life ends, broadcasters left in the lurch

INSAT 2E going out of space has put many broadcasters in panic. With its 12-year life having ended four days ago, broadcasters including Doordarshan are running around to find a new satellite space for themselves. INSAT 2E was launched in April 1999.
Sources said ISRO has asked all such private broadcasters to find their own satellites and shift. Normally, all broadcasters and their teleport operators have to go through ISRO when moving to a foreign satellite.

Experts said if all the channels currently hosted on INSAT-2E do not find transponder space in next couple of days they will not be available to the viewers specially those residing in the north-east and southern states.
The channels that are getting affected include 11 channels from Raj TV, 10 channels of Star India's southern channel packages including Asianet and Star Vijay bouquets, 6 channels of NE TV group (beaming Assamese channels), TV 9, Aakash Bangla, DD National, UTV Bloomberg among others.
Broadcasters are talking to Asiasat 7, the new Asiasat satellite which has recently replaced Asiasat 3S but available time to shift is inadequate to avoid a black out. ISRO will leave control of INSAT 2E next week.
This switch off will affect the cable networks who work on C-Band. Sensing business opportunity, a host of foreign satellites over India are re-arranging their capacity to service Indian operators, sources said.
These include satellites like ABS-1, Eutelsat, Thiacom, Intelsat, Measat, Asiasat, and SES-7. However, while the strict regulations mandate all domestic operators to seek Isro’s clearance before migrating to a foreign satellite, sources said it is Isro itself which is turing a blind eye to the entry of foreign satellites including those from China to services the needs of Indian broadcasters and DTH operators.
Earlier to DTH operators had suffered a set back due to failure of INSAT satellite. INSAT-4C suffered a launch failure in 2006. Its replacement satellite INSAT-4CR suffered a partial launch failure in September 2007. While eventually the satellite was delivered to its geostationary orbit, mission life of the satellite decreased by five years as the thrusters had to burn extra fuel to restore the satellite to its correct orbit.
Consequently, Isro had no option but to offer the major user Bharti Airtel to start using the SES-7 satellite for its DTH services. The maiden flight of GSLV MKII failed (25-April. 2010) during the launch of the GSAT-4 satellite. On July 7, 2010, Isro reported a glitch in the operation of INSAT 4B located at 93.5E which was used to serve DD-Direct and Sun TV DTH platforms in addition to other services including VSATs. “Power was not flowing from one of the solar panels which required half of the payload to be switched off. The satellite remains in a precarious position,” said a technical head of a leading DTH firm.


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