DTH service is provided to the people by transmitting channels directly via satellite. Presently, DTH players are trying to make transmission of channels feasible through Ku Band transponders. This is because such transponders enable digitally compressed channels to be beamed direct to the consumers. Digital transmission increases picture and sound quality of the programmes and allow many value added services. This is another reason that persuades DTH operators to transmit channels via Ku band transponders. At present DTH players charge a lumpsum amount for their entire package of channels that forces the consumers to have all those channels to which they do not heed. However, DTH has value added services like video on demand, consumer interaction etc to complement its drawback of not allowing its customers to opt channels.
DTH service, because of its advanced user friendly features is being felt as a lucrative business opportunity by many companies like Tata, Star TV, Zee TV and DD who have already entered into this business. Tata and Star TV jointly own DTH service namely 'Tata Sky', Zee TV holds 'Dish TV' and DD offers 'DD Direct'. Sun TV, one of the largest broadcasters of South India also has its DTH service due to be launched in July 07.
But the rewards being offered by DTH can not always be witnessed in a manner as if this advancement cannot pose inconveniences. The foremost poser for the DTH players is the shortage of transponders. Ku band transponders are not adequate that limits the number of channels a DTH operator can hold. For this reason DTH companies are willing to have only those channels that provide them more revenue. However, DTH players can air channels according to their wish only if the broadcasters provide them channels on pick and choose basis. But there have been frequent conflicts between broadcasters and DTH operators on the manner in which channels must be provided to a DTH distributor. This is mainly due to the reason that all existing DTH players own bouquets of channels of teir own and would like all of them to be promoted through this distribution platform. The major clauses that conflict with the shortage of transponders say that the DTH operators must carry the signals of a broadcaster on non-discriminatory basis. Another clause that restricts DTH operation is that the satellite for operation must be provided by ISRO, the Indian space Company. At first the tussle between Dish TV and Star group where Dish TV claimed its right of having the signals of Star TV's channels was finally sorted out by TDSAT directing Star TV to provide its signals to Dish TV. An identical brawl between Zee TV and Tata Sky was also settled in the similar manner. Later, another similar clash between Sun TV and Tata Sky occured when Sun refused to give its channels to Tata Sky on a-la-carte basis and they had to approach the court..
Sun TV plans to commence 'Sun Direct', its DTH service in the first week of July 07. Tata Sky that is already operational in several areas, demanded Sun TV to supply its channels to them (Tata Sky) on a-la-carte (pick and choose) basis. However, Sun TV challenged TDSAT's interim order where the case is being heard, that directs Sun TV to share signals with DTH operator Tata Sky without forcing them to choose all channels.
According to Sun TV counsel Vivek Sibal, the channel had filed two written petitions before the Madras High Court against the TDSAT's order which Sun TV did not abide by contending that Tata Sky will have to take all its 20 channels, the condition not okay to Tata Sky. The Madras High Court granted a stay to Sun TV on TDSAT's order.
Tata Sky feels that Sun TV is simply stalling to gain time before the launch of its own DTH ventures. Ultimately Tata Sky approached the apex Court to get the relief against Madras igh Court's stay on TDSAT's order. On .......... Supreme Court has directed TDSAT to decide the case by May 01.
The decision of the case could be in anybody's favour but it is clearly visible that though DTH offers the latest, advanced and sophisticated technology but its business has many barriers in its expansion. The failure of INSAT 4C which had Ku band transponders was one of the major set backs in the growth of DTH technology as it delayed the projects of DTH players. In addition to the technological problems DTH does not even take care of the cost that consumers have to bear.