The government has decided to deliver live coverage of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship 2018 via Bangabandhu-1, the country's first ever communications satellite, despite opposition from the France-based company that launched the satellite on May 11.
The SAFF Championship will take place between September 4 and September 15 in Dhaka and will have seven participating teams from South Asian countries.
“We have decided to broadcast the SAFF Championship next week on a test basis,” said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman and chief executive officer of the Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited (BCSCL).
According to the plan, BCSCL will tie up with local satellite television station Channel 9, which has bought the television rights of the tournament. BCSCL will take a feed from Channel 9 and will broadcast it with state-run BTV to test the process, said Shahjahan.
He said other private television channels in the country will also test the process by getting this feed from BCSCL.
However, project officials and the Bangabandhu-1 launching company, Thales Alenia Space is not in favour of this 'test broadcast' saying that it won't be proper before conducting the final technical test scheduled to be held in the third week of next month.
The next solar eclipse is scheduled on September 21 and on that day Thales Alenia Space will measure how the Bangabandhu-1 performs without the sunlight even in daytime, said officials related with the process.
After that test, Thales will hand over the Bangabandhu-1 to the project officials of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and the project office, which will give it to the authority of BCSCL.
“It will not be fair to run any 'commercial test' before official handover,” said an official requesting anonymity. “If anything unfortunate happens or any challenge is created, Thales will not take any responsibility.”
The cost of the satellite was Tk 2,765 crore and according to the plan it will break even within seven years of starting its commercial service.
The satellite is now being run by local engineers with the assistance of Thales's experts.
“Actually, we want to test it before the official handover and take the SAFF Championship -- to both test and present it -- before the regional satellite televisions as a message about our preparation,” said Shahjahan, who has been appointed chairman of BCSCL after expiry of his term as chairman of BTRC recently.
Gazi Tv, the private television channel that are official broadcasters of the Bangladesh cricket team's matches, has not yet decided whether to use the Bangabandhu-1 to take the feed for cricket matches, with Bangladesh's Asia Cup campaign in UAE from September 15 in the offing.
"Gazi TV has not taken a decision, and will wait to see the technical performance during the test broadcast of the SAFF Championship," managing director of Gazi TV, Aman Asfhraf Faiz, told The Daily Star yesterday.
On Wednesday, the BCSCL had a meeting with top officials of different private televisions to discuss and update them on the issue. State-owned television channel BTV will take the lead of broadcasting and is setting up their own equipment on the ground station of Bangabandhu-1 satellite in Gazipur to establish links with around 20 private television channels.