Gupta fired the katta in the air (for the first and only time) and managed to break the fight. While that day, in end February of 1991, is etched in his memory for the wrong reasons, Gupta swears by his learnings in Etah. It made him live the life of his consumers and soak it in. Today, Gupta, who has just been elevated as managing director of media giant Star India, makes sure that his team members spend a lot of time in the homes of their audience. A Star India team is scheduled to fan out a across Uttar Pradesh next month. Gupta recalls how, after joining Star in 2009, he did his own bit of such touring.
In Surat, he met one Mrs Shah who helped her husband in his diamond business. She was well known in her locality. But he realised that she wanted to be more than Mrs Shah; she wanted to be known as Minal Shah, a jewellery designer. Gupta explains how aspirations for such transformations are part of his target audience’s lives, and have inspired Star to build their soaps around women who come from humble beginnings and want to make it big time. A transformation along similar lines was celebrated in the recently concluded Star soap Diya Aur Baati Hum , about a girl, married young, who becomes an IPS officer. Transformation is also the reigning buzzword in Star India.
Chairman on his feet
It starts in the corner office. On the 37th floor of Urmi Estate in Mumbai’s Lower Parel commercial district, Gupta’s boss and Star India chief Uday Shankar works standing at his workstation, which is a raised table without a chair around. The room, with glass walls on two sides, looking over central Mumbai’s concrete jungle, has three separate seating areas and a large television screen. Shankar, who has just been elevated as chairman and CEO of the company has his own storyline for transformation. He tells ET Magazine: “The company was started and designed as a small operation.
It was not created to handle the growth we are seeing now.” He started off last week by carving up the company into five business verticals and elevating the business heads as CEOs of those businesses. There is a lot to keep Shankar on his feet — mainly the financial goals set by his boss James Murdoch, CEO of Star India’s parent 21st century Fox. Shankar has to take the company from a negative operating profit position in 2014-15 to deliver half a billion dollars of profit by 2018 and then double it by 2020. Shankar has to make good on a Rs 20,000 crore bet that sports will be profitable, and make money out of a digital platform, Hotstar, that Star India has pioneered.
The good news
Growth is a great place to begin with. In the last two years, Star India has doubled its turnover. From Rs 5,204 crore in 2013-14, it went up to Rs 7,164 crore in 2014-15 and now is at Rs 10,800 crore for 2015-16 (around 65 per cent of Star’s revenues come from advertising). Star India has been valued at $14.3 billion (a little over Rs 91,000 crore) by Edelweiss in January 2016, putting it way ahead of its rival Zee Entertainment (See How it Compares With Listed Entertainment Companies ).
With 51 channels in eight languages, Star’s overall network share among Indian broadcasters is 22-23 per cent, making it the king of the hill. Star has a deep presence in general entertainment channels (GECs) and is among the top three in Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Marathi. It leads in sports, with Star Sports owning the rights to BCCI and ICC events up to 2018 and 2023, respectively. It has the rights to Wimbledon and two European football leagues and also coowns Indian leagues in kabaddi, hockey and football.
The bad news
While that is the good news, here is the bad. Year 2014-15 produced Star India’s biggest ever net loss — Rs 1,273.88 crore as a standalone entity and Rs 1,467.35 crore when consolidated with its subsidiaries. The sports model still revolves around cricket, which may be high on visibility but not on profits, not yet. Last August, Star India paid $420 million to get out of a contract with the BCCI to broadcast the Champions League T20.
This will hurt the profit and loss account for 201516. In other words, the company will again be in the red. Hotstar, the digital platform, is still hungry for investments. Star is facing a tough challenge in Hindi GEC space, with Colors from Viacom’s stable often outdoing it in weekly ratings from BARC. In late 2015, its major gambit, Amitabh Bachchan hosted Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi gathered low ratings and was later taken off air.
The game plan
Shankar points out that Star India is in a unique position as it is unlisted and has a parent that is ready to pump in cash whenever needed — as it did for Star India’s acquisition of Telugu broadcaster Maa TV in February 2015. Also, the company barely has any loans. The acquisitions of Vijay Television and Asianet provided Star with a strong footing in southern India, and Fox was happy to invest through separate subsidiaries, keeping it out of Star India’s balance sheet. CFO Sanjay Jain points out that the two companies, Vijay Television and Asianet, are profitable (a combined net profit of around Rs 450 crore) but are not consolidated with Star India.
For any plan to succeed, Star’s sports business must turn around by 2018. Shankar admits that the sports broadcasting model in India is broke and that broadcasting top cricket events is not profitable. He sees a turnaround of the sports business by pushing sports programming into regional channels and markets. To realise this vision, Star India has invested in a sports studio in Mumbai in the same building that houses its headquarters.
The recent World T20 had multiple commentary teams in different languages, creating regional language feeds. In search of profitability, Star also wants a flotilla around cricket and to look beyond urban audiences. That explains investments in different sports leagues like football, hockey and kabaddi.
To garner a larger viewership, kabaddi was also put on Star Gold. Star India has eight sports channels, with a clear focus on separating the audience that wants English content from the one that Shankar is seeking out. “The focus is to make sports available to a larger number of people, in local languages, Hindi as well as others,” says Shankar.
Is Star India’s bid to create new sports media properties sustainable? There are a few sceptics. Ronnie Screwvala, owner of U Mumbai kabaddi team, lauds Star for promoting kabaddi, but adds: “I have a mixed view, as media companies cannot use media expertise to build a sport, because then the DNA and the thinking will always be from the ratings, viewership /audience and advertising points of view. While there may be nothing wrong with any of that, just those can’t be the objectives because then we will not build a long-term sport but a long-term media property.”
Take football. Star India created the Indian Super League (ISL) in a joint venture with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance. The assessment within Star itself is that running two national football leagues, the ISL and the I-League, is not viable in the long run.
The digital design
Star also has to turn around Hotstar, its digital platform that has seen 58 million app downloads in 14 months — a record of sorts. Hotstar can be accessed through an app or directly on the web through mobile web and website. Star expects 100 million unique views for the 2016 IPL season, for which it has the digital rights. Ad revenues on digital for this IPL are expected to touch 12-14 per cent (3 per cent in 2014). Also, more people today watch the English Premier League on Hotstar in India than they do on television. Star India is planning a paid version of Hotstar.
Streaming video is not cheap, and Star’s MD Gupta figures that anyone who is able to watch videos can also afford to pay more for premium content — for shows like Game of Thrones or even the English Premier League. Gupta says: “We expect an overall explosion of television-watching time in India and we want to grab the new advertising and subscription opportunities.” The search for audiences has taken wings, with the Star soap Iss Pyaar ko Kya Naam Doon? becoming a rage in Turkey.
The digital platform allows Star India to seek subscribers outside India, wherever the diaspora is spread out. As a relief to the company, the film business has seen two successes in 2016, with both Neerja and Kapoor & Sons promising good returns. Shankar says Star India is changing gears in films.
The profit and loss statement of Star India for 2014-15 shows that the company has upped its spending on programming and programme rights by more than Rs 2,500 crore to Rs 5,597 crore. So profitability will only come via greater revenues. Edelweiss analysts Abneesh Roy and Rajiv Berlia wrote in their report in January: “Star is best placed to charge premium ad rates due to a higher demand for prime-time slots. Zee TV’s ad rates are 0.75 x Star Plus rates, which shows the premium commanded by Star.”
Closer to the audience
Shankar, doubtless, sees an opportunity for closing the gap between expenses and revenues. The regional thrust is a push for profitability as these channels often enjoy a 30-40 per cent margin. The South is clearly a focus area. In the shakeup last week, managing director of Asianet, K Madhavan, has been elevated as managing director (South) for Star India. Madhavan says, “The South is a very profitable unit.
About 30 per cent of the television population resides in the four southern states and most of these markets are priority for advertisers.” Shankar wants to ride on the top line growth to a healthy bottom line and has decided to pump prime the content pipeline and create content ahead of its time. “I want our teams to work on at least 100 projects in Hindi and another 100 in other languages simultaneously,” he says. One of the initiative she has taken has been to diversify recruitment.
“We hire from the top management and engineering colleges but now we have started going to universities in places like Allahabad and Benaras,” he says, stressing on the need to avoid sameness in hiring and the key role that diversity plays in keeping alive a content-generating company like Star India. So to find Bengali writers, a Star team went to Santiniketan. To help bring in more creative people on board, Star has introduced flexible contracts that do not tie professionals to the company in the manner of a job. To retain women employees, the company introduced flexible maternity leave—six months of paid leave and then another six months of leave at half the pay, or full pay for half the working hours. In various ways, through programming and hiring and the changes initiated last week that drive the decision-making powers down the line, Star is trying to get closer to its audience, deep inside India, in tier-2 and tier-3 towns and villages. These are places like Etah where Gupta started his career. Television today ensures that in these towns, no one needs to wait for a film screening on special days like Holi. For Star, this audience can be key.
Together for Good is Nickelodeon’s worldwide initiative that believes anyone, anywhere, any time can help make the world a better place. In India too, the movement has been launched with a vision to empower kids to be the change agents in society.
Commenting on this initiative, Nina Jaipuria, EVP and Business Head, Kids Cluster at Viacom18 said. “At Nickelodeon, we believe that children are change agents of tomorrow. Through ‘Together For Good’ we want to start imbibing in children the eternal virtues of cleanliness, while also empowering them to make small but impactful changes in society. Together For Good is a movement that will inspire the ever creative and curious kids to bring about a positive change in the world.”
Given the fact that cleanliness is one of India’s primary concerns, this edition of Together For Good sets out to address the concern by inspiring children to take small but actionable steps towards creating a cleaner future.
Collect. Clean. Create
Nickelodeon believes that kids are very creative and hence goes beyond just simple ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ to contribute towards society in their unique way. Hence, this year the campaign will be actioned through the unique idea of ‘Collect -> Clean -> Create’. This will not only help them to be aware but go a step further to unleash their creativity and build simple usable items out of waste, scrap and junk.
In keeping with the core of Collect, Clean and Create, Nickelodeon will begin by seeding messages of cleanliness on-air and online with the help of the kids favourite Nicktoons with whom they share immense equity. Children across the country will be encouraged to take up the issue at an individual level, or even join clubs and groups to help out.
The movement will be brought to life on digital on nickindia.com/TFG. The page will help kids with simple and actionable steps with a starter kit with info-graphics, articles on the importance of cleanliness and various methods and tools that we can use for personal as well as environmental cleanliness. The page will also list all the other activities that are currently active in the country and open to participation.
The movement will also be brought alive on-ground across 3 cities to amplify the message of Together For Good, moving towards cleaner surroundings. Children under the guidance of a leading artists will clean a popular city locale and create a unique art masterpiece – bringing alive the message of Together for Good.
TV advertising revenues are forecast to grow by +12.3 per cent in 2016, supported by strong spending from e-commerce companies and FMCG brands.
According to Jerry Buhlmann, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network, the strength of digital continue to be the dominant element in the growth of global advertising expenditure whilst TV spend remains as the foundations of the industry.
“As advertising becomes more data driven and complex, its crucial to move rapidly to navigate and meet the needs of the digital economy and this is reflected in the innovative capabilities and approach we provide to our clients,” expressed Buhlmann.
While TV is expected to remain dominant for many years to come, advertisers are increasingly utilising Online Video as an invaluable complement. However, share of total Digital advertising spend in India is still relatively low at 8.9 per cent (2016).
Unlike in other markets, positive Newspaper advertising spend growth is expected to continue in India at +10.5 per cent in 2016, primarily due to investment from e-commerce, Automotive and a small contribution from Government spending. Retail advertisers also continue to spend on Print.
Carat’s first forecasts for 2017 predict continuing strong growth for the advertising market in India with an estimated increase of +13.9 per cent and expected favourable economic conditions in which advertisers vie for consumers’ attention.
Based on data received from 59 markets across the Americas, Asia Pacific and EMEA, Carat’s latest global forecasts highlights that advertising spend will reach US$538 billion in 2016, accounting for a +4.5 per cent year-on-year increase.
Fuelled by high-interest media events taking place during the year– including the US presidential elections, Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics and the UEFA EURO 2016 championship – the positive outlook for 2016 is predicted to continue into 2017, with Carat’s forecast highlighting a consistently strong year-on-year global advertising growth of +4.5 per cent.
Carat’s latest forecasts reconfirm the rise of Digital as the established driver of global advertising spend growth. Powered by the upsurge of Mobile (+37.9 per cent), Online Video (+34.7 per cent) and Social Media (+29.8 per cent) in 2016, the strength of Digital is expected to continue to grow at double digit prediction levels of +15.0 per cent this year, and a further +13.6 per cent in 2017.
Overall, Carat predicts the upsurge of Digital to account for 27.0 per cent of advertising spend in 2016 and extend significantly to 29.3 per cent in 2017, reaching US$161 billion globally.
Speaking on the launch of new season, a Big Ganga spokesperson said, “Big Memsaab is a talent reality show which provides a unique platform for housewives to showcase their talent, capability and beauty. After receiving an enormous response for our last six seasons, we have come up with a brand new season of the show. Being the leading regional general entertainment channel of Bihar & Jharkhand, we only strive to provide original content which is entertaining and engages maximum viewers. To make this platform available for maximum number of housewives we are reaching the deep pockets of the market through multiple touch points”.
Some of the brands have associated with Big Memsaab Season 7 – Title Sponsor – Xpert, Co-presented by Horlicks and Powered by Colgate.
Auditions for Big Memsaab Season 7 in the Bihar, Jharkhand, UP region have been planned across 12 key markets namely Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Bokaro, Dhanbad, Bhagalpur, Muzzafarpur, Chhapra, Patna, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Lucknow. Following the auditions, contestants will be shortlisted for the finals, and these Memsaab’s will then fight for the title of Big Memsaab Season 7.
Participants have to qualify for three stages of audition – Talented Memsaab, 1st round will focus on various talents that the participants can showcase, few shortlisted contestants will move to the next stage – Khubsurat Memsaab, where they will be judged on their grooming capabilities. Qualifying in the second stage, the semi-finalists will reach the third audition round which will be -Kitchen Ki Memsaab where they will have to showcase their kitchen skills.
BIG Memsaab allows for maximum consumer engagement as it breaks free from the clutter and offers something path breaking to the viewers and participants alike. Apart from Big FM and Big Magic, the activity will be promoted across through on-ground activation, OOH, Print, Digital and Cinema.
Jain joined IndiaCast as CFO after having successfully managed critical roles at Turner General Entertainment India and TV Today Network. A Chartered Accountant by qualification, he has over two decades of experience in diverse sectors including manufacturing and service sectors.
Speaking on the development, Gandhi said, “Over the last several years our top management has demonstrated innovative approaches in content monetization and marketing across the globe. Sanjay brings to the table nearly two and a half decades of financial and general management experience. I am confident that Sanjay’s proficiency and experience coupled with our bold growth agenda will help us excel in our business ambitions.”
Business Head UK & USA Govind Shahi elevated to manage the US region along with his existing remit.
Sachin Gokhale, Business Head MEA & APAC. In addition to his current role as the Business Head of the MEA region, Gokhale will now also oversee the companies’ activities in APAC.Debkumar Dasgupta – Business Head Syndication, New Media & South Asia. He will take on the added responsibility of New Media business.
All the International Business heads along with Outbound Sales and International Operations teams will report to Jain.
Life Ok witnessed hike in terms of both viewership and ranking. It jumped from sevenths spot in last week to fourth position with 519305 GVTs, up from previous week’s 487736 GVTs. Sony Pal remained at fifth spot with 511913 GVTs, while Zee Anmol slipped from fourth position to sixth spot with 489059 GVTs, down from week 14’s 573906 GVTs.
Rishtey climbed to seventh spot with 456334 GVTs, followed by Star Utsav with 405153 GVTs. Sister Channels Sony Sab and Sony Entertainment stood at ninth and tenth spots with 375739 and 296067 GVTs, respectively.
Colors Naagin continued to lead with 16488 GVTs, while Star Plus’s Ye Hai Mohabbatein climbed to second spot with 11026 GVTs. Zee TV’s Kum kum Bhagya slipped to third position with 10663 GVTs.
Jodha Akbar stood at fourth spot with 10226 GVTs and Star Plus’Saath Nibhaana Saathiya occupied fifth position with 9612 GVTs.
India TV maintained its lead with 66780 GVTs. AajTak remained at second spot with 62473 GVTs, followed by India News and ABP News with 39804 and 38516 GVTs, respectively. News Nation stood at fifth spot with 34332 GVTs.
Sony Max not only continued to lead, but also witnessed huge jump in viewership. Its TRP went up from 416360 GVTs in week 14 to 850223 GVTs. Zee Cinema stood at second spot with 395484 GVTs; while Star Gold occupied third position with 324282 GVTs.
Movies OK remained at fourth spot with 202298 GVTs, followed by &pictures with 180566 GVTs.
Sony Six claimed the throne with 242701 GVTs, while last week’s topper Ten1 slipped to second spot with 106729 GVTs.Sony ESPN stood at third position with 100057 GVTs, followed by Star Sports3 and Star Sports1 with 24849 and 13541 GVTs, respectively.
Mastiii led the chart once again with 103280 GVTs, followed by B4U Music with 89643 GVTs. 9XM remained at third position with 76798 GVTs, while Sony Mix was at fourth spot with 70274 GVTs, followed by Bindass Play with 34886 GVTs.
With 89809 GVTs topped the chart once again, followed by Pogo TV with 79196 GVTs. Hungama climbed to third spot with 69908 GVTs, while Disney Channel slipped to fourth position with 66595 GVTs. Cartoon Network remained at fifth spot with 59779 GVTs.
MTV stood strong at top spot with 10158 GVTs, followed by Zing and Bindass with 10019 and 8636 GVTs, respectively.Zoom stood at fourth spot with 7273 GVTs and Channel V occupied fifth postion with 4246 GVTs.
Discovery Channel claimed the throne with 4536 GVTs, while History TV18 slipped to second position with 3804 GVTs. National Geographic Channel stood at third spot with 3500 GVTs, followed by Animal Planet and Nat geo Wild with 2840 and 1986 GVTs, respectively.
Zee Cafe remained at fourth spot with 101 GVTs, while Star World slipped to fifth position with 77 GVTs.
Once again Times Now topped the chart with 442 GVTs. CNN News18 returned to second spot with 184 GVTs, while India Today TV slipped to third position with 172 GVTs. NDTV 24×7 climbed to fourth position with 160 GVTs, followed by NewsX with 97 GVTs.
CNBC TV18 claimed the throne with 154 GVTs, while last week’s topper ET Now slipped to second spot with 150 GVTs. NDTV Profit and NDTV Prime remained at third position with 36 GVTs and Bloomberg TV stood at fourth position with 8 GVTs.
Movie Now maintained its lead with 3263 GVTs, followed by Star Movies and Sony Pix with 2374 and 1930 GVTs, respectively. HBO returned to fourth spot with 1807 GVTs, while Zee Studio slipped to fifth position with 1397 GVTs.
Star Jalsha maintained its lead with 190641 GVTs, while Zee Bangla remained at second spot with 127689 GVTs. Jalsha Movies occupied third position with 48710 GVTs and Zee Bangla Cinema stood at fourth spot with 31304 GVTs. ABP Ananda climbed to fifth position with 29336 GVTs.
With 18274 GVTs, Big Ganga topped the chart once again, followed by Bhojpuri Cinema with 13903 GVTs, Dabangg climbed to third position with 5674 GVTs, while Dangal TV slipped to fourth spot with 4780 GVTs.With 2244 GVTs, ETV Bihar Jharkhand returned to fifth position.
Sarthak stood strong at top spot with 94518 GVTs. Tarang TV remained at second spot with 50749 GVTs, followed by Colors Oriya with 16906 GVTs. Odisha TV stood at fourth spot with 13427, while Alankar remained at fifth position with 8745 GVTs.
Once again Sun TV led the chart with 992361 GVTs. KTV Stood strong at second spot with 237759 GVTs. Star Vijay remained at third position with 157604 GVTs, followed by Zee Tamil with 132754 GVTs. Kalaignar TV returned to fifth spot with 70769 GVTs.
Zee Telugu claimed the throne with 434399 GVTs, while ETV Telugu slipped to second spot with 406027 GVTs. Maa TV remained at third position with 396097 GVTs, while sister channels Gemini TV and Gemini Movies occupied fourth and fifth spot with 342714 and 176871 GVTs, respectively.
Colors Kannada continued to lead with 257868 GVTs, while Survarna stood at second spot with 165442 GVTs. Udaya Movies climbed to third position with 157391 GVTs, followed by Zee Kannada and Udaya TV with 154716 and 153601 GVTs, respectively.
Asianet Movies maintained its lead with 316276 GVTs. Mazhavil Manorama remained at second spot with 109319 GVTs. Surya TV returned to third position with 88621 GVTs, while Flowers TV slipped to fourth spot with 61860 GVTs. Asianet Movies stood at fifth position with 58311 GVTs.
“In order to support better content, the government is considering outsourcing the content for Doordarshan, providing a dedicated channel for showing documentaries and providing funds to Indian movies for participating in foreign film festivals,” he said at a seminar on ‘India-Entertainment as soft power’ organized by the commerce and industry ministry in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Services Export Promotion Council.
Rathore said that there is a huge thirst for good content among the people and the media and entertainment industry needs to invest in skills in order to improve quality.
“Professionals in the media and entertainment industry need to be skilled and there is an opportunity for skill development centres to come up across the country,” he said.
Rathore said the ‘Make in India’ vision of increasing production within India was already happening in the media and entertainment industry with a large amount of content being produced.
“The government is taking various measures to support this trend and be a facilitator for the industry. It is setting up a centre for excellence in animation and gaming in Maharashtra,” he added at the event at the India Expo Centre and Mart in Greater Noida.
Rathore said that India was experiencing significant increase in connectivity and the central government was introducing a number of measures to support India’s media and entertainment industry.
He said that getting visas for film-making will be made easier and duties on film-making equipment will be brought down, and that issues related to clearances are being addressed. There are 857 television channels and 168 million households have access to television content.
The Animation Series and Movies are handpicked especially for kids. A treat for them during their summer vacations, children will enjoy animation series such as Vikramaur Munja, Stories of Tenalirama and animation movies such as Little Krishna, Bal Ganesha in Bhojpuri.
The show will see a robust multi-media promotional plan across key markets. The channel will engage with viewers and trade partners locally and nationally through multiple platforms.
First season was premiered last year on 19 July and Mumbai’s Danielle Canute won the title, whereas Rushali Rai from Delhi and Nagaland’s Gloria Tep were the first and second runner-ups, respectively.
According to a report of Desiblitz Judges and mentors from first season Lisa Haydon, Dabboo Ratnani, Anusha Dandekar and Neeraj Gaba will reprise their respective roles in second season and the show will hit the TV screens in June 2016.
Featuring renowned comic genius Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the lead, hit TV series Veep follows her journey as the clueless Vice-President Selina Meyer who leads a bizarre brigade of staff members.
The show that depicts humanity, banality and absurdity that goes on in the life of Washington has evolved its storyline to the point where Meyer has stumbled her way into occupancy of the Oval Office as the President. So join in the mad brigade as Season 5 of the satirical presidential show yet again takes comedy to the next level while continuing to revolve around Meyer and her many adventures.
The show also stars Golden Globe and People’s Choice Awards winner Hugh Laurie along with Anna Chlumsky, Emmy award winner Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh, Sufe Bradshaw, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole and Sam Richardson.
Silicon Valley Season 3
Silicon Valley has carved a niche for itself because of its comedic charm and tech-centric satire on the city by the bay where everyone has a tech startup with world-changing ideas but only a few make it big. The top tier satire show is now all set to return for a third season with different personal and professional issues which the team at Pied Piper will have to face.
Starring T.J. Miller, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr and Zach Woods, Season 3 of the show will also welcome veteran actor Stephen Tobolowsky as Jack Barker, the new CEO of Pied Piper. Jack Barker is a very successful and relatable CEO who has taken small companies public with not just successful IPOs but insanely successful IPOs. But is that too good to be true? After cameos by Snapchat co-founder and Dropbox CEO in the previous season, who will Silicon Valley bring this season?
They also said government mandating the use of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) will act as a booster for the domestic manufacturing of satellite signal receivers as a part of the Make in India initiative.
India on Thursday put into orbit its seventh navigation satellite — IRNSS-1G — and joined a select group of space-faring nations with their own satellite navigation system. Simply put, the IRNSS is similar to the global positioning system (GPS) of the US, Glonass of Russia, and Galileo of Europe as well as China’s Beidou.
According to India Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the applications of IRNSS are: terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, vehicle tracking and fleet management, terrestrial navigation for hikers and travellers, disaster management, integration with mobile phones, mapping and geodetic data capture and visual and voice navigation for drivers.
“The Indian system provides positional accuracy of 10 metres. For civilian usage to bloom and the cost to come down, more manufacturers have to start making the navigation signal receivers. That will happen once the IRNSS is formally declared operational,” A.S. Ganeshan, retired programme director of ISRO’s Satellite Navigation Progamme, told IANS.
He said the satellite navigation system comprises three segments — space (satellites), ground (ground systems) and user (receivers).
The Indian space agency has to test all the three segments thoroughly before IRNSS could be declared an operational navigation system.
Ganeshan said once the IRNSS is ready, there will be greater development of application software that would be useful for different segments.
The IRNSS will provide two types of services – standard positioning service and restricted service. The former is provided to all users and the latter is an encrypted service for authorised users. Once the system is fully operational, India will not have to face of risk of the absence of satellite signals at critical times as the existing systems are owned by other countries.
While the defence forces would get the IRNSS signal receivers from the manufacturers, the challenge for deeper penetration of the Indian navigation system depends on the makers of signal receivers.
“The Indian government should mandate the use of indigenous satellite navigation systems by various government agencies and the emergency services like ambulance and others so that the signal receiver makers are enthused to get into accelerated production mode,” Ganeshan added.
He said once the mandatory usage is there, more software applications could then be developed, thereby widening the usage.
Agreeing with him, S. Purushotham, director, Accord Software & Systems Pvt Ltd, told IANS: “If there is a mandate then it will give a big fillip for the receiver makers’ Make in India efforts.”
Nevertheless, Accord Software will get into making the IRNSS receivers as the company is confident that the Indian navigation system will soon be declared operational, Purushotham remarked.
The Bengaluru-based Accord Software clocked a turnover of around Rs.100 crore ($15 million) last year and has around 400 people on its rolls, Purushotham said.
“We are the only company to develop the receivers for IRNSS. We have delivered to ISRO and other agencies through ISRO for use in land and marine applications,” he said.
Speaking about the the cost for the common man, Purushotham said it would depend on the volumes though the equipment will be priced competitively with that of GPS receivers.
According to Ganeshan, it will not be right to compare the seven-satellite IRNSS with that of the US GPS as the latter system consists of 24 satellites.
“The Indian system should be given some time before comparisons could be made,” Ganeshan said.
“India will not be content with the constellation of seven navigation satellites and it will launch more such satellites,” he added.