Satellite radio is one of the fastest-growing entertainment services in the world and it is making its presence felt in a small but a positive way in India.
A satellite radio is basically a digital unit that receives signals broadcast by communications satellite. This allows a person with a set to follow his favourite stations anywhere in the country unlike the terrestrial radio (AM and FM) whose signals are limited to a certain area depending on the power of the station. Some of the advantages of a satellite radio are that the sound is of digital quality and there are no commercials. But it is not for free, it is available on subscription for a fee.
In this country it is largely limited to connoisseurs of music who don't like commercials. With an aim to reach out to the masses, WorldSpace besides its campaigns in print and outdoor advertising (billboards scream, "Radio is back!"), has its salesmen going door-to-door selling the concept.
A listener of a satellite radio cannot get local stations. In other words, a Bengali or a Tamilian living in Delhi can tune in to sat channels of their choice on the receiver, but cannot listen to a local station.
Although popular in malls and some petrol stations, the concept is yet to catch the fancy of individual households. There are some problems, says a user. The Yagi antenna needs to be fitted in open space, preferably on top of the building and it is thus prone to be tampered. Paying subscription too is not easy, as one has to pay it online or by cheque to WorldSpace office and wait for the password.
Although the music quality is very good, commercials have been replaced by WorldSpace's own promos, which are no less irritating.
With the country adopting the latest global technologies, and in fact in many cases dictating the way technologies are developing worldwide, WorldSpace believes, it is only a matter of time before these are well entrenched in the mindshare of people across the country.