Spread the love

This Article is written by Aaliya Fatima of University of Lucknow, an Intern under Legal Vidhiya.


Terrestrial and Satellite Broadcasting, without a denial are of great importance. Terrestrial television or simply known as over-the-air television is that type of television broadcasting where the transmission of signals occurs through radio waves from the terrestrial transmitter of a television station to a television receiver which has an antenna while satellite broadcasting is the transfer of radio programmes or television with the help of an artificial satellite which is at a power suitable and can be directly received at home. Terrestrial and Satellite Broadcasting hence together helps in performing various tasks which helps in the smooth administration of the telecommunication industry. This research paper simply focuses on the concept of terrestrial as well as satellite broadcasting, it’s meaning and significance, the laws that govern the process and also to give the readers a sightful impact and a better understanding of the concept.


Broadcast, Satellites, terrestrial, responder, transmitter, laws.


In the present scenario, where the world is totally engulfed by rapid growth of technology, where artificial intelligence is taking over millions of jobs, it becomes all the more necessary to acquire awareness as well as knowledge about the technology. When we ponder about technology, we tend to realise that it is present everywhere amidst us ranging from the ground we walk on to those celestial bodies which we eagerly used to gape in our childhood. But Similar to the situation, the technical world is changing too. Along with the artificial intelligence, the new world is an era of social media and television where information is exchanged or shown at a snap of fingers and this is where telecommunications, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting come into picture. Satellite and terrestrial broadcasting are of great significance. They have nearly occupied the world with their importance. Hence it is important to understand the concepts that are related to it, their differences as well as the laws that are related to it. This research paper serves the following purpose.

Meaning of Satellite and Terrestrial broadcasting

  • Satellite Broadcasting

Satellite Broadcasting according to Article 1.39 of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Radio Regulations (RR) defined as a radio communication service in which signals transmitted or retransmitted by space stations are intended for direct reception by the general public. In the broadcasting-satellite service, the term “direct reception” shall encompass both individual reception and community reception.[1]

In simpler words, Satellite broadcasting is the distribution of different types of medias or signals of broadcast over or via satellite network. The broadcast signals generally have its origin usually from a station like TV or radio station afterwards which they are sent through a satellite uplink (uploaded) to a geo-stationary artificial satellite for retransmission or redistribution to sources which are already determined geographic locations via a secure channel. Downlinks afterwards are received by base stations for instance small home satellite dishes or by base stations owned by the local cable network which later are distributed to their respective customers.

  • Terrestrial Broadcasting

Terrestrial television or simply known as l over-the-air television (OTA) is that type of television broadcasting wherein the signal transmission occurs through radio waves from the terrestrial transmitter (which is basically earth based) of a television station to a television receiver that is present with an antenna. The word “terrestrial” is more standard in the west regions of Europe and Latin America, whereas in the United States of America and Canada it is called broadcast or simply over the air. This sort of TV broadcast is very different from technologies present in today’s world such as direct broadcast satellite or DBS television wherein the signal is transmitted to the receiver via overhead satellite;

cable television: the signal is carried to the receiver with the help of cable and Internet Protocol television, where the signal is received over an Internet stream or on a network using the Internet service. Terrestrial television stations broadcast on television channels with frequencies ranging from 52 and 600 MHz in the UHF as well as VHF bands. Since radio waves in these bands travel by line of sight, reception is generally limited by the visual horizon to distances of 64–97 kilometres (40–60 mi), although under better conditions and with tropospheric ducting, signals can sometimes be received hundreds of kilometres distant.[2]

 History of Terrestrial Television/ Broadcasting

  1. The very first technology used for television broadcasting was indeed terrestrial broadcasting.
  2. The BBC began to broadcast in 1929 and by 1930 where many radio stations had a regular time table of experimenting with television programmes.
  3. However, these early experimental time schedules failed due to not so good picture quality that failed to attract the public, because of their mechanical scan technology, hence television wasn’t famous or become widespread until after World War II with the beginning of electronic scan television technology.
  4. The television broadcasting business followed radio networks’ model with local television stations in different cities as well as towns that were facilitated with television networks, either controlled by the government in Europe or that of commercial in the United States of America, which provided content. Television broadcasts were usually black and white until the transition to colour television in the 1960s.
  5. In the1950s with the beginnings of cable television and community antenna television (CATV), the television delivery began. CATV was before that, only a re-broadcast of over-the-air signals.
  6. With the widespread adoption of cable across the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, viewing of terrestrial television broadcasts has been in decline; in 2018, it was estimated that about 14% of US[3] households used an antenna.
  7. By 2019, over-the-top media service (OTT) which is streamed through the internet had become a common alternative.
  8. However, in certain other regions terrestrial television still is the reliable way of receiving television. According to the Statistics by Deloitte as of 2020 that at not less than1.6 billion people in the world received at least some television using these old sources. The largest market is that of Indonesia, where around 250 million people still watch through terrestrial.

Rules and regulations regarding Terrestrial and Satellite Broadcasting

  • Guidelines and procedures regarding Indian parties to provide services using Indian satellites

 The guidelines that need to be kept in mind are as follows:

Government of India decided that Satellite Communications Policy should implement rules in a way that proposals conceived using Indian Satellites would be done in such manner that it would lead to greater benefits to that or group of those individuals concerned for the satellites whether Indian or foreign on the Indian soil. The Administrative or the ministry department concerned would make rules according to the guidelines mentioned above and also keeping in mind Section 2 ,3,4 of the Satellites Communication norms, rules and regulations.

  • Guidelines to be followed regarding the use of insat capacities via non- governmental parties

 Indian parties are allowed to provide services such as television unlinking with the help of Indian satellites.  

  • Guidelines to be followed for establishment and operations of Indian Satellite System

Government of India approved the framework of Satellite Communications Framework.

Definition of Indian satellites: the Indian satellite is a system wherein it is a part of network or a group of networks which are notified, verified, coordinated and kept in touch by the administration of India in accordance with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in which if any errors occur, India would be responsible for the actions.

The guidelines that need to be followed are:

For authorization of the Indian satellite system, three licenses are required:

Permission from department of space: an authorised permission from department of space is required in order to a registered Indian satellite system including the controlling of spacecraft system. The authorization is necessary so that India keeps in mind while establishing the Indian satellite system the United Nation’s space treaty and other such treaties to which India is a signatory of.

Permission of Wireless planning and Commission Wing (WPC): Permission from the wireless planning and Commission Wing of ministry of Communication is required so that it is established in accordance with the norms of ITU radio regulations.

Acquisition of licences for the services that needs to be provided for: A separate licence is required for the services that the Indian satellite system is ready to give.

  • Guidelines to be followed while issuing the license

The guidelines that need to be followed in the case of issuing licence are as follows:

  1. The companies that are Indian based or are registered as Indian shall be only allowed to issue the license.
  2. The company applying for the issue of licence should must satisfy the concerned authorities that they have the required facilities, financial as well as legal credentials and other such facilities which are needed to establish one such system.
  3. The applying party should follow all the norms and rules laid down by the organisations to which India is signatory.
  4. The Satellite committee who has its base outside the Indian territory must shift it inside the Indian territory within the maximum period of two years from which the license was granted.
  5. In the case of a conflict, the government owned authority would have the upper hand. Authorisation should be a first come basis.
  6. Guidelines in case of foreign satellites.

The guidelines that need to be followed in the case of foreign satellites are as follows:

  1. Carrying out such systems on the soil of India but using foreign satellites would only be allowed in special circumstances.
  2.  This may happen in cases such as the company got established using other countries law before such laws were framed in India.
  3. Operations should be carried out in such a way that it ensures maximum benefit to the concerned individuals or group individuals.
  4. Department of space would ensure that all the guidelines are being followed in accordance with the rules and regulations.
  5. Guidelines to be followed in cases of domestic satellites

The guidelines that need to be followed in the case of domestic satellites are as follows:

  1. Department of Space should be consulted the administrative ministry for the establishment, coordination and operations of such satellite.
  2. For all the services that are listed in the above point, the Broad cast bill rules shall apply.
  3. While authorizing such permission to the administrative committee in the cases of foreign satellites, it should be based on end-to-end basis and not merely on the frequency basis.


Satellite and Terrestrial broadcasting have indeed changed the face of the world. The drastic revolution that the world faced after the discovery of Satellites preferably the satellite and terrestrial broadcasting was indeed phenomenal. Satellite and Terrestrial broadcasting have made every thing look so easier. The information can be exchanged with any wastage of time which is indeed commendable. Indeed, the invention of satellite as well as terrestrial broadcasting was very much influenced by several external factors such as the technology got advanced, increase in traffic, new developments and changes in the service sector. All this contributed towards the rapid growth of such technology not only in India as well as globally. There is no denial to the fact that Satellites have changed the earth in positive aspect for we cannot imagine a world with literally no accurate weather forecasting or television. The possibilities of satellites surely seem to be unlimited for clearly, we can imagine a world where via satellites we would be able to wirelessly link our laptops with the internet in the remotest areas of the country. Although there are many problems that are totally inherent with such advantages but what is more important is that we learn from our mistakes and always keep moving forward towards a better future.

[1] ITU Radio Regulations, Section IV. Radio Stations and Systems – Article 1.39, definition: broadcasting-satellite service / broadcasting-satellite radio communication service

[2] BBC.co.uk “Help receiving TV and radio”. Retrieved September 28, 2020

[3]  “Nielsen: Broadcast Reliance Grew in 2012”, TV Technology, 14 January 2013, Archived at the Wayback Machine


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *