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India Starts Working Up Sat Rad Rules

Meanwhile, WorldSpace reports further subscriber drop.

While the U.S. satellite radio merger awaits a decision from the FCC, authorities in India have crafted a draft satellite radio policy, which would include a technical standard.

That’s according to the Business Standard.

Presumably that’s good news for WorldSpace, which separately reported a subscriber drop last week in announcing its first quarter results.

The satcaster ended the quarter with about 171,400 subscribers worldwide, a loss of 2,700 from the close of the prior quarter, which the company said reflected the planned ending of marketing efforts in India and other parts of the world ahead of its efforts to begin mobile service in Europe in 2009. As of last September, its worldwide subscriber total was around 177,600.

In its announcement last week, Chairman/CEO Noah Samara stated he was pleased with progress in Europe but concerned about the company’s cash position and its pending and near-term payment obligations. For the first quarter, WorldSpace reported revenues of approximately $3 million, essentially flat with revenues for the same period a year ago.

WorldSpace showed a net loss for Q1 of $36.8 million, compared with a net loss of $35.5 million, for Q1 2007. Total operating expenses for the quarter were $36.4 million, a 10.3% decline from a year ago, primarily reflecting reduced marketing activity in India, the company said.

In India, WorldSpace lost about 1,000 net subscribers during the quarter. The company is waiting for approval of both repeater licenses and a local equity partner relationship in that country. WorldSpace ended the period with 162,000 subscribers in India, compared to about 163,000 at the end of the fourth quarter.

WorldSpace has 10 channels devoted to Indian programming, nine music streams and one sports channel. The satcaster began broadcasting live cricket matches to its India subscribers in 2006 and launched five channels on MSN India last August.