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Rise and Fall of WorldSpace Satellite Radio

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

What is World Space Satellite Radio?

World Space Satellite Radio was a global satellite radio service that used Geostationary satellites to broadcast an array of programs. Which requires a dedicated special antenna which has to be installed outside the house and must have a clear line of sight to the satellite without any barrier. Remain with us as we will explain what went wrong with the company in India.

The company first broadcasted on 10th October 1999 in Africa. Later in 2008 changed its brand to 1worldspace. World Space Satellite Radio started its service with a philanthropic aim and was a 501 (C) (3) tax-exempted organization in 1997. It aimed at improving literacy in Africa, Providing content to smaller community radio stations in the continent through satellite.

Interestingly! World Space Satellite Radio is the first radio company to enjoy the acceptance of subscriptions in early 2000 with limited national and regional offerings provided to India, South Africa, and Europe.

The company published contents of various fields News, Sports, Music, Brand name contents, Educational programs for Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. With 62 channels (38 channels by third-party content creators and 24 of them by World Space Satellite Radio). Additional contents included channels that focused on Poetry, Literature, Comedy, and Talkshows.

The happy-going company, unfortunately, faced a setback with a lack of commercial support and an unsustainable business model that led to a huge financial loss. In 2008 the World Space Satellite Radio filed for bankruptcy under chapter 11 of U.S law. The company was left with a debt of a mammoth 2.9 Billion US dollar.

Fall of World Space Satellite Radio in India

Despite 95% of the audience of World Space Satellite Radio's are Indians yet the company decided to off-air on 31st December 2009 disappointing 0.45 Million premium subscribers. It failed for three main reasons

  1. There was strong competition from FM radio which had an estimated 5 Million listeners in Mumbai and Delhi only.

  2. No spectrum allocation- although invested in hybrid digital radio service a combination of satellite and terrestrial transmission which would allow them to broadcast to vehicles through mobile services. The company failed to receive government permission for spectrum allocation despite already invested in infrastructure.

  3. No buyers for India operation - After the World Space Satellite Radio company was acquired by Liberty Media in December, refused to operate in India despite its mass audience.

The satellite radio made a comeback in India after Timbre Media, a Bangalore-based start-up received the license to use the world space brand, The World Space Satellite Radio service was re-launched in India in association with Sa Re Ga Ma on September 2011. Streamed through mobile phones, Internet, and direct to the home Television network. The old users no longer received the network. Liberty Media, an American cable-TV group bought the asset in June 2010. further Yazmi USA a company owned by the former founder and CEO of World Space Noah Samara purchased the full stake for 5.5 Million. Despite having the right to use the world's globally allocated spectrum of digital satellite radio never made use of its license to the fullest.

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