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INSIGHT - A Look @ Zee TV
by Michael Fleck

Today, Zee Entertainment Enterprises is a multi-faceted media company with DTH and Broadcasting operations that encompass the world. Zee reaches an estimated 200 million viewers in more than 120 countries. From its origins in 1992 as Zee TV broadcasting based in Singapore, Zee is now at the forefront of broadcast satellite applications in South Asia.

With more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications, Internet, and broadcast fields, Amitabh Kumar is the Director of Technology for the Essel Group of companies and also the Head of Broadcasting Operations of the Zee Network, India and Singapore. Kumar is responsible for setting up India’s first pay DTH platform, Dish TV. He has been a member on the Board of Directors of Essel Shyam Telecommunications Ltd. Mr. Kumar has been a Director on the Board of Telestra V-Com Ltd., a member of NASSCOM Executive Council and Governor for India on the Board of Governors of Intelsat and Director of Operations of VSNL.

I was able to speak briefly with Mr. Kumar at Broadcast Asia in Singapore about plans to expand the reach of Zee’s satellite services.

India today is home to about 1.13 billion people who speak 22 different languages. India is rapidly modernizing and is a country with approximately 60 percent of the population involved in agriculture. There are also over 100 cities with more than one million in population. Such a fragmented market is a challenge to television on a national level.

The primary source of cable TV distribution today in India today is through analog operators. Currently, cable TV is a poorly organized industry wherein cable companies reach approximately 80 million homes with a maximum of 60 channels. The demand is certainly resident in India for an increase in the number of channels. However, the cost of installing digital head ends is well beyond the means of most cable operators.

Increasing sales of large screen plasmas and LCD televisions is driving the growing demand for digital TV in India.

There certainly does not appear to be any shortage of content in India. Mr. Kumar’s Zee Networks currently has access to more than 450 channels available in India and overseas and expects to grow this number to more than 500 over the next year. Channeling all of this content to users requires satellite delivery and systems such as DTH and Head end-in-the Sky (HITS).

Zee Networks has initiated a ‘Head End in the Sky’ to move digital content directly to existing cable operators. For approximately U.S. $2,000, each cable operator can install a trans-modulator to convert the satellite QPSK (Quadrature Phase Shift Keying modulation scheme that uses four phase values to encode two data bits per modulated signal) to the cable QAM and is capable of delivering the entire 550 channels to their subscribers. Each service can be customized to insert local channels and advertising.

Zee Networks currently delivers content direct to home (DTH) as well as to cable operators using a variety of satellites, including six C-band transponders on AsiaSat-4, another four C-band transponders on NSS-703, 11 Ku-band transponders on NSS-6, with a further 6-to 12 C-band transponders scheduled for NSS-12, which is due for launch Q4 2008.

The DTH service of the Zee Network will also make use of the Protostar-1 launched on July 7, 2008 with 14 Ku-band transponders dedicated to the service.

Mr. Kumar’s recent book on WiMAX deals with the issues broadcasters will face in regard to this new technology, including migrating to a new generation of broadcasting that integrates the Mobile, Wireless and Fixed network domains. Select the graphic for further details…

Mr. Kumar has also recently published a book devoted to Mobile TV. This book provides detailed insight into mobile multimedia efficient compression techniques, protocols formalized by 3GPP or 3GPP2, as well as the capabilities of broadcast and mobile networks for delivering multimedia content. He discusses network requirements for enabling multimedia services, such as spectrum, chipsets, software and handsets; delivery platforms, and content protection technologies that provide revenue assurance. All are covered in detail. Written with a global perspective, this book takes a detailed look at the networks deployed worldwide with examples and is rich in diagrams providing extraordinary visualization of the new technologies.

About the author
Michael Fleck is managing Director of Global Vision Networks, the Asia Pacific region’s leading provider of services to the corporate world. Based in Sydney with representative offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Chennai (India) and soon in Beijing, Global Vision offers complete turnkey solutions for everything from downlinks into hotels to disaster recovery capability across the region. Global Vision Networks is ISO 9001 certified, a big plus for maintaining quality in the design and management of permanent and occasional solutions for the enterprise market in 17 countries of the AP region. Since 1992 the company has assisted multinational corporations with a range of solutions including location television production, fixed and SNG uplink, temporary and permanent downlinks, and an extensive network of satellite equipped five star hotels for special events.