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Asia Wotsat looks at free TV from Afghanistan to Bangladesh, and how to get it

Indian soaps are a hit on Afghan TV

Toolkit What you need to receive Asian free TV n Free-to-air DVB digital satellite receiver n 45cm dish with universal LNB aimed at Astra 2/ Eurobird 1 (28°E) n 50cm dish with universal LNB aimed at Hot Bird (13°E) n See Channel Check for dish sizes required on other satellites

It’s a tribute to modern technology that it’s possible to get so many TV channels via satellite from way beyond the Middle East. If you included pay-TV the list here could be much longer because many channels from India and Pakistan are subscription-only on Sky and Virgin. It’s not surprising that India has the most liberated TV culture, although it’s dominated by ‘desi’ shows – clones of Western formats like I’m A Celebrity – not to mention soaps very similar to the Latin telenovelas. They’re traditionally about the tension between a bride and mother-in-law, although the relative youth of India’s TV audience has led recently to dramas featuring less conventional female roles.

Soap operations The Indian soaps are also very popular in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, redubbed for the local language. They’re an easy win for Afghanistan’s progressive private channels like Tolo TV and Ariana TV, compared with the stuffy national network, although the conservative backlash has

Indiavision: rolling news from south-west India 2  What Satellite & Digital TV

SET Africa carries some Hindi entertainment

been threatening and even violent towards the stars and producers of the new channels. Afghan Star was such a bold, controversial and popular show that it was recently featured in a Channel 4 documentary. To satisfy critics Tolo TV ran Koran Star, rewarding contestants who memorised Koranic passages. Conservatives weren’t happy, though, when the winner was a 16-year-old girl. Censorship battles are also common in Bangladesh and Pakistan, where live talk shows were briefly banned – except for Late Night With Begum Nawazish Ali, hosted by a cross between The Daily Show’s John Stewart and Lily Savage, who seems immune to threats or censorship. They’re better off than Uzbekistan, a one-party state with no private TV channels, although citizens are free to watch Russian, Chinese and BBC channels on cable TV. Another unusual phenomenon is development TV, funded by agencies like the United Nations and the International Rice Research Institute. Quiz shows and dramas try to encourage better farming practices or knowledge and use of information technology. The dark side of this is advertiser-funded children’s TV so blatant it seems impossible to British viewers (see Commander Safeguard, panel right).

Next on Euro Spotlight

Islamic channel Peace TV broadcasts in Urdu and English

Five of the best Five of Asian TV’s most popular shows

Afghan Star

Tolo TV (Afghanistan) The pressure in this talent contest makes Britain’s Got Talent look easy – female entrants received death threats and hardliners wanted the show banned.

Jiboner Jolchobi

ATN Bangla (Bangladesh) Soap co-funded by the International Rice Research Institute that aims to encourage better farming.

Spirit Of Eurasia

CaspioNet (Kazakhstan) Weekly documentary covering different nationalities living in Kazakhstan, their traditions and customs.

Rakhi Ka Swayamvar

NDTV Imagine (India) Reality show in which controversial Indian ‘it’ girl, dancer and actress Rakhi Sawant, looked for a husband among 18 contestants.

Commander Safeguard

Multiple channels (Pakistan) Commercial-cum-children’s animation designed by Procter & Gamble to promote its Safeguard soap brand, and encourage children’s health and hygiene.

n Free TV from the Far East

Zee Music UK is featured on the Sky EPG

9XM is full of Bollywood tunes

world spotlight See Channel Check page 56 for frequencies Note: There are no free TV channels from The Maldives, Tajikistan or Turkmenistan available in the UK




Ariana TV International RTA Tolo TV International

General entertainment General entertainment General entertainment

Note: All channels on Hot Bird, 13°E

Free Bangladeshi TV CHANNEL


ATN Bangla UK Channel I NTV

General entertainment General entertainment General entertainment

Note: All channels on Eurobird 1, 28.5°E

Free Indian TV CHANNEL


9XM UK Aastha International Adithya TV n Amrita TV Middle East n Angel TV B4U Music UK Divine TV n Kairali Channel n Kalaignar TV UK KTV n Music India NDTV Imagine Peace TV UK/Urdu Punjjabi TV Rainbow n SET Africa t

Bollywood music Spiritual Tamil entertainment Hindi entertainment Religion: Christian Bollywood music Religion: Christianity Malayalam entertainment Tamil entertainment Tamil entertainment Bollywood music Hindi entertainment Religion: Islam Punjabi entertainment Religion: Christian Hindi ents (DVB-S2)

Sun Music n Sun TV n Zee Music UK

Tamil music Tamil entertainment Bollywood music

Note: All channels on Astra 2/Eurobird, 28.2°E, except n Eurobird 9, 9°E t Eutelsat Sesat, 36°E (in DVB-S2)

Free Kazakh TV CHANNEL


CaspioNet t CNL Evropa

News & culture Religion: Christian

Note: All channels on Hot Bird, 13°E, except t Also Eutelsat Sesat, 36°E

Free Kyrgish TV CHANNEL



General entertainment

Note: All channels on Hot Bird, 13°E

Free Pakistani TV CHANNEL


ARY News UK PTV Prime l

News General entertainment

Note: All channels on Astra 2/Eurobird, 28.2°E, except l Also Intelsat 905, 24.5°W



Forum TV Telekanal Uzbekistan

General entertainment General entertainment

Note: All channels on Express AM1, 40°E


Free Afghan TV

5°W The former French national spot was transferred to Eutelsat along with Stellat 5 shortly after its launch in 2002, and the satellite was renamed Atlantic Bird 3. Stellat 5 differed from the earlier French Telecom birds at 5°W because it was designed for two-way internet services as well as regular broadcast TV. It most famously hosts the rebroadcasts of French TV for regions with poor terrestrial reception, in analogue Secam and more recently in digital. The C-band payload also broadcasts French TV to dependent territories in the Caribbean, North Africa and the Indian Ocean, as well as hosting a slice of bandwidth dedicated to ESA projects. n Operator: Eutelsat

Satellites n Atlantic Bird 3

Launched: Ariane 5G, Korou, July 5, 2002 Launch mass: 4,100kg Manufacturer: Alcatel Space Spacebus 3000B3 Transponders: 35 Ku-band, 10 C-band EIRP: 53dBW Beams: Wide (Ku-band), Super (Ku-band), Algeria (Ku-band), Panatlantic (C-band)

© Eutelsat

Aastha International celebrates India’s spirituality and culture

Atlantic Bird 3 is partly used for two-way internet services Kairali TV entertains Malayalee viewers

Bright young minds are quizzed on Kairali TV What Satellite & Digital TV  3


Instant guide to free digital TV channels from Asia.