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New Uplinking, TV Channel Downlinking Standards Cleared

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting released revised guidelines on uplinking and downlinking satellite television channels and mandatory channel encoding for all bands except C-band on Wednesday.

The revised guidelines, approved by the cabinet, also required private broadcasters to broadcast at least 30 minutes of national and public interest content every day.

In addition, the government has required companies to ensure that uplinking takes place on specific frequency bands that have been approved, and that uplinking for all bands (except the C band) must be done in encrypted mode. In principle, free-to-air channels, with the exception of those on the C-band, should be encoded. The cabinet expects the new guidelines to protect against unfair advantages that some TV channels previously enjoyed.

In August, the ministry had to give its approval to Zee Media Corp. Ltd (ZMCL) for uplinking 10 television channels available on Ku-Band (a form of satellite frequency) on GSAT-15 Satellite, which helped make the channels accessible on DD Free Dish, as they were not encrypted, thus the company gained an unfair advantage over its rivals.

The ministry said in a statement that the guidelines are easy to follow and will simplify the process. Previously, non-news live events required permission for live uplinking. Now companies simply have to register instead of requesting permission from the ministry.

For channels going from standard definition to high definition, the companies don’t have to ask for government approval, but an indication is enough, it added. Unlike in the past, companies can also uplink channels from more than one teleport or satellite. Previously, companies were not allowed to use Indian teleports to uplink foreign channels for downlinking content in overseas markets. To earn foreign exchange, the government allowed foreign broadcasters to uplink from Indian teleports and downlinks outside India.

However, companies and LLPs seeking authorization must deposit security money with the government, at twice the annual fee, to ensure dues are paid, the ministry said. There used to be no rule for deposits.

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