Airtel DTH to replace WorldSpace with AIR channels
Yogesh Sapkale  and  Amritha Pillay 30 December 2009

Airtel DTH is all set to replace WorldSpace services from its platform with 10 radio channels of All India Radio

Indian subscribers to WorldSpace radio services are praying for a miracle so that it can continue to broadcast signals beyond 31st December. However, there is a thin line of hope for the continuation of WorldSpace operations in India.

Airtel direct to home (DTH) that offers WorldSpace radio services to subscribers in India said that from 1st January, it will replace WorldSpace with 10 radio channels of All India Radio (AIR).

According to sources, Airtel DTH will start sending messages to subscribers from Thursday. Interestingly, just last month, Airtel DTH's chief marketing officer, Sugato Banerji, had said that when other DTH service providers selected AIR FM channels, Airtel went for WorldSpace and this was a key differentiator.

India accounts for over 95% of WorldSpace’s worldwide subscriber base with over 450,000 subscribers, more than 50% through the Airtel DTH pay-TV package. However, WorldSpace India was not earning enough cash from its deal with Airtel DTH. The DTH services provider offered 10 channels of WorldSpace for Rs10 per month or Rs120 a year, with subscribers to its Rs200 package and above getting the radio channels absolutely free of cost.

At the same time, WorldSpace charged Rs2,000 per annum for its 40 channels. So in a way, the deal was not profitable for WorldSpace but helped it to increase subscriber base in the country.

Secondly, the emergence of FM channels throughout the country, especially in the metros, proved to be a major hindrance to WorldSpace's growth. There were a few factors that worked in favour of FM channels. The major factor was the ease of listening to FM channels while travelling across the city. Due to licensing limits, WorldSpace was not able to offer the same.

According to analysts, the radio services business in the country is worth Rs830 crore and it will grow by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14% to Rs1,600 crore over the next four years. The Indian government had announced the bids for phase III licenses across 700 frequencies in about 200 cities. This will further boost growth of FM channels in India.

Recently, US-based Liberty Media Corp bought all debt of WorldSpace through its unit Liberty Satellite Radio LLC. Earlier this year, Liberty Media rescued another satellite radio service provider Sirius XM from bankruptcy by providing a timely loan of $520 million. In return, Liberty Media secured 40% stake in Sirius XM.

According to media reports, Mel Karmazin, chief executive of Sirius XM, had said that the company may partner with fellow satellite radio services provider WorldSpace, which is also partially controlled by Liberty. He said that the deal most likely would involve using its relationships to help the struggling company build satellite radio equipment and connect with automakers, with Liberty adding financial support.

WorldSpace has revenues of $4.70 million as of 30th November; however, during the same period, its operating expenses and reorganisation costs stood at $52 million. WorldSpace had $1.10 million unpaid post-petition debts outstanding for end-November that were supposed to be paid in December.

According to media reports, Liberty Media, which has bought the assets of WorldSpace, is most likely to redirect it towards Western Europe, which boasts of 300 million vehicles on the road. The other possibility is that Liberty Media may use these WorldSpace assets to target South America, especially Brazil, which has hardly any players in the satellite radio space. This could mean robust growth for the company.

The question whether Liberty Media would continue WorldSpace's India operations or use the assets for other lucrative regions, remains unanswered. The only thing we can say at this moment is that WorldSpace radio services will be no longer present in India from 1st January, unless of course, there is a miracle!

1 decade ago
i was a l istener/subscriber of worldspace radio. suddenly they stopped broadcasting. this was a very painful affair to me and am frantically looking for any source who could provide such music. could you help me?
Jan Lee
1 decade ago
Its very sad that they are clsing down, and unfortunately I did not know this via the newspapers. Despite the fact that they kept chasing us to pay up and subscribe for a year's service and we did so. Good music and entertaining.. now what happens to our money?? almost 1,000.. Its high time the concerned officials do something abut this.. also all their toll free numbers are dead!!! Now who will read these frusttraing comments and take action?? Is this another way of making bucks in a cunning way? I know not..
1 decade ago
very saad that I miss a desciplined listening without any unusual meaning less phone in calls as cheap fm channels. worldspace is a matter of proud for indian music transmitters. Bankruptcy may let it closed but its quality can not be achieved by any indian transmitters. I love worldspace. I hear worldspace. Its discourses of religious matters by shri ravishankar, and discourses throughout day in moksha station and sai global harmony like stations can not be broadcasted by any indian or government channels throughout the day without any single advertisement. it is the main cause that advertisements should not dominate the transmission causes. Much more, is the educative values of our old day traditions for music, spiritual,sports, cenemas is a high and dedicated service done by world space. I am having much concern not over my loosing of listening the radio, but for the yeomon service rendered by the company and they have potential to make some other alternative of transmission which may go in the same stream. I hope worldspace radio livelong.
Prof.V Maruthi Rao
1 decade ago
What a tragedy!.When we were enjoying those golden hits on farishta suddenly the voice stops.An irreparable loss to music lovers like me when I was reliving those wonderful moments of my younger days. FM stations are all trash. only noise and ads. nothing to beat WS. What an excellent digital music we were enjoying. What we lost in some unexpired subscription is nothing before what we are losing everyday. Not a day or a moment passed without listening to those immortal melodies from those legends Mohd.Rafi, the monarch, Lata, the queen, Kishore, the greatest and Mukesh, the incomaparable and many more. We feel orphaned and soulless now. I pray that all those days come back again. Let Liberty Media know this and understand sentiments of millions of Indian music lovers
1 decade ago
i personnely feel its a great lose to the music lovers and spiritual listeners apart from finance loss as the worldspace kept its termination plan a top secret till end and accepted annual subscription till the 1st week of Dec 2009.we 1eel cheated in all the way.
1 decade ago
When it comes to music, worldspace was offering all varities which even the hazar fm's in india are not offering. If there is anyone who is replacing them we will be the first to join. Kindly do call us or send us email so that we can get our music back
meena ganapathy
1 decade ago
We stay in Kerala and my only lifeline for hindi music was world space. I hope someone offers the music the same way. It is sad we are loosing this wonderful music channel. please please let some miracle take place.
s devarshi
1 decade ago
i agree with you raj ,kisan,shivalata . no worse way to begin the new year. the last hope was airtel. that is gone too. sunil mittal is a businessman. he would have looked at it from business angle. the radio has fallen silent. i wonder about priymbada and all her colleagues in farishta. what are they upto ? the unexpected thing is that our hyper tv channels have not picked up the news. they are busy reporting sleaze while a lovely thing has passed away. let's pray for a miracle.
1 decade ago
Special Announcement for India Subscribers to WorldSpace Satellite Radio

On December 31, 2009, the WorldSpace satellite radio broadcast service will be terminated for all customers serviced from India.

This action is an outgrowth of the financial difficulties facing WorldSpace India’s parent company, WorldSpace, Inc., which has been under bankruptcy protection since October 2008. The potential buyer of much of WorldSpace’s global assets has decided not to buy the WorldSpace assets relating to and supporting WorldSpace’s subscription business in India. As a consequence, WorldSpace, Inc. must discontinue its subscriber business in India. Your subscription contract is with WorldSpace, Inc., a US company that is in a bankruptcy proceeding in the United States. The company recognizes that you may have paid for services to be rendered beyond the termination date, but is not in a position to offer a refund for any unused portion of your subscription.

You may have a potential remedy under the U.S. bankruptcy law. You may file a claim under the claims procedure that is intended to protect creditors of the bankrupt company. Sometime early next year, a claim servicing company will send notice to all creditors listed by the company. In order to ensure that you receive timely notice, we would request that you send the following information by mail or email to Rakesh Raghavan at WorldSpace, Inc. headquarters in the United States.

1. Name
2. Address
3. Email
4. Subscription Account Number
5. Date of Subscription
6. Length of Subscription
7. Amount paid for your current subscription

Send this information to: By email -- [email protected] or by regular mail – Rakesh Raghavan, WorldSpace, Inc. 8515 Georgia AV, Silver Spring, MD 20910 USA.
Shivalatha Bolledula
1 decade ago
I am used to listening to WorldSpace contineously from the morning till late in the night. I found a friend in worldspace to pass my time when all my housemates are out on their usual works. The pain of loosing it is making me very sad. I hope, something goes in our favour and we start the new year with the music flowing from world space.
Prashanth Arpula
1 decade ago
We are very fond of our favoriurite oldies in Farishta, Gandharv et al. I had renewed my subscription on 19th Dec 2009 for 2 years. The pain of loosing our favourite music is more than the pain of loosing the money though I am feeling cheated for the money collected by Worldspace from me just 2 weeks before their closure. Hope there is some miracle and the music starts flowing.
Udaya S Mishra
1 decade ago
It is quite unfortunate that such a service is abruptly discntinued leaving its customers high and dry. As it has 450,000 customers in place some indian company need to take over and continue the show with a rapid promotion campaign to sustain this brilliant service. Otherwise it seems like a surrender to foreign companies who use us for trial and withdraw as and ehen they like
Kisan Bhat
1 decade ago
Very very sad that it had to close down. My radio was on almost ON through out the day since past four years. My favourites were RIFF, Faristha and Gandharva.
I had recently bought a new set and two years subscription in Sept. 2009 and even gifted one set with one year subscription to my friend.

I will miss it very badly. Today I took out all my old cds and tapes and am playing the same right now while I am writing this message.
1 decade ago
Thank you for this input. You are the only one who has reported on Worldspace in depth. Hope the service revives
1 decade ago
Oh! Sad! Cannot live without Worldspace. RIP
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