Towards making India an uplinking hub

Source– The post is based on the article “Towards making India an uplinking hub” published in The Hindu on 6th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

Relevance– Issues related to commu7nication sector

News– The article explains the major developments in the television industry since its inception. It also explains the recent policy developments in this industry and their rationale behind these policy decisions

What are recent developments in the television industry?

In 2021, the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, were amended to include a statutory mechanism for grievance redressal of viewers relating to content broadcast by television channels.

In 2022, the Union Cabinet approved the policy guidelines for the uplinking and downlinking of television channels from India.

Uplink refers to the link from a ground station up to a satellite. Adownlink is the link from a satellite down to one or more ground stations or receivers.

What were the major developments in the television industry up to the 1990s?

Television started in India in September 1959. For almost three decades, broadcasting was solely under the control of the state.

In the early 1990s, cable television arrived in India. The government was unprepared to check transmission and broadcast through foreign satellites. Cable television networks grew at a very fast pace, and foreign television networks invaded our culture through their programmes.

In order to regulate the cable network industry and to make registration of cable operators mandatory, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 was brought in. In 2000, the first license to set up a teleport was given. It is an earth station facility from where TV signals can be uplinked to a geostationary satellite.

After the 1990s, some people in India joined hands with some Non-Resident Indians in Hong Kong to launch the country’s first private television channel called Zee TV, in October 1992.

In the next few years, Business India Television; Asia Television Network, and Jain TV also began operating. All these channels flew out tapes every day to Hong Kong, Singapore or Moscow for uplinking. Broadcasting was obviously an expensive and cumbersome affair.

What were the developments in the television industry after the 2000s?

The  Indian broadcasters were allowed to uplink from Indian soil. The facility was made available through Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited.

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 license was given to TV Today Network Limited in November 2000. 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.

What is the rationale behind the recent policy guidelines for uplinking and downlinking of television channels?

The decision has been taken in view of the challenges from the evolving broadcasting technology, changes in market scenarios and other operational developments in the broadcasting sector.

The guidelines aim to create a conducive environment in line with the principle of ease of doing business on a sound regulatory framework. But more importantly, these are aimed at making India a teleport hub for other countries.

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