“Presently, 885 satellite TV channels are permitted by the ministry under the uplinking/downlinking guidelines”. Minister of State in the MIB Col Rajyavardhan Rathore informed the Lok Sabha. He also stated that Ministry has no plan to put a cap on number of TV channels downlinked in the country. “Out of the 885 channels, 269 channels have been reported as pay channels by the broadcasters to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
Rathore further stated that Prasar Bharati’s free-to-air (FTA) direct-to-home (DTH) platform Freedish is carrying 80 channels, which is expected to go up to 250 channels in 12th Plan scheme. Prasar Bharati, he stated, has informed that All India Radio (AIR) has 23 FTA channels on Freedish.
The pubcaster has proposed to start 16 more FTA channels on the DTH platform. He stated that in 2011 the MIB had accepted TRAI’s recommendations dated 22 July 2010 that no cap be placed on the number of satellite broadcasting channels to be downlinked for viewing in India or to be uplinked from India. The ministry, Rathore said, had also accepted TRAI’s recommendation to set a higher net worth criteria for applicant companies intending to operate news as well as non-news TV channels. It had also recommended introducing experience clause for top executives of such broadcaster companies.
The Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines were amended with the approval of the Cabinet after carrying out due consultation with other ministries/departments. Country has no law for television channels. Broadcast Bill renamed as ‘ Communication and Convergence Bill has remained in draft form since 1997 due to pressure from the powerful broadcasters lobby in the name of Freedom of Expression.