Although the transmission of television (and to a lesser extent, radio) broadcasts by means of satellites directly to domestic receivers is one of the most promising trends in the use of outer space for the needs of man, it may have unfortunate political, economic and human consequences. Direct broadcasting penetrates the national frontier and in so doing contributes to the weakening of those features which each country has retained in order to preserve its individuality, security and national sovereignty. The modern economy is based on an interplay of commercial and industrial forces. Through television advertising (which is not permitted in a number of countries), the use of satellites may bring about disequilibrium in trade balances, or the modification in actual practice of commercial trade treaties. Transmissions to a country, made without the consent of that country, may contain propaganda of violence and horror or may be hostile to the internal or external policies of the nation, may exhibit habits or customs at variance with the population's standards of morality. It allows citizens to bypass censored, government-controlled airwaves. Such transmissions may be viewed as undermining the foundations of the local civilization and culture and prejudicing the cause of safeguarding international peace and security.
The satellite network, which began broadcasting in 1991 with reruns of American soap operas and police shows, as well as MTV and BBC News, by 1993 had reached 12 million households, hotels and restaurants in 38 countries. In India, the fastest-growing market, the number of viewers has risen almost 160% in the last half of 1992 and first quarter of 1993, with 3.3 million households receiving the service. India and Pakistan's government-run television networks do not allow liquor or cigarette advertisements for health and moral reasons, but Western alcohol and tobacco companies can now circumvent the restrictions on satellite broadcasts. The Hong-Kong-based STAR-TN has is largest viewing audience in China, where the network believed 4.8 million households received transmissions in 1993 (Government restrictions have prevented accurate surveys).