Say you have an exceptional idea for a local television channel in India.

This TV station of yours will transmit signals to the satellite from India. (In telecom language, you will uplink from India, which most broadcasters do.) To do so, you need to check these boxes first. Your company should have a net worth Rs 5 crore ($769,500) for a non-news channel and Rs 20 crore ($3.07 million) for a news channel. You need permission from the government. So, you approach the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry with your application and a processing fee of Rs 10,000 ($153.9). The I&B ministry sends your application to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for security clearance. Then, it goes to the Department of Space (DoS) for satellite usage clearance. Also, to the Department of Revenue. And finally, the application comes back to the empanelled auditors and internal officials of I&B ministry for clearance.

You’d think you should be able to run the channel at this point? You’d be wrong.

You still need clearances from Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) and Networks Operation Control Centre (NOCC). Once done, you may launch by paying the government Rs 2 lakh ($3,078) annually. If you are lucky and your content has to be uplinked from abroad, you may skip certain permissions, but you pay an entry fee of Rs 10 lakh ($15,390) and an annual fee of Rs 15 lakh ($23,085).

This entire process can be delayed indefinitely by the ministries and the departments involved as there is no legal timeline to bind the process. To top it all, it’s all done manually.

For some, it takes a few months. For others, like Raghav Bahl, it could take years.

India, 2018

Bahl exited the television news business after Reliance Industries took control of his Network18 India Investments in 2014, and later that year, he launched Quintillion Media Pvt. Ltd that operates the news website In 2016, Bahl forged a partnership with New York-based Bloomberg LP to launch a co-branded television news channel and website in a bid to re-enter the TV news business. The television channel was supposed to launch in a few months after regulatory approvals, but the company never got the permission.

After a prolonged wait, Bahl, who declined to comment on the matter, reportedly went the acquisition route, bought a licence from a Kolkata-based media company called Horizon Satellite Services. He then applied for a name change of the licence to BloombergQuint in 2017. The application is still pending with the ministry, and the company continues to be focused on its digital venture.


Number of new satellite channels that were given the permission to operate in 2017

But Bahl might have to wait a bit longer.


Harveen Ahluwalia

In her last assignment, Harveen was at Mint, the business daily published by HT Media. At Mint, where she spent about two years, she wrote stories on retail, food and the media business. Harveen is a B.Com (H) graduate from Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi. She has a diploma in journalism from the Times School of Journalism. Like many folks at The Ken, Harveen talks and tweets a lot. When she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to sketch and doodle. She can be reached at harveen at the-ken dot com.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at detailing the error or queries.