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Huge pile of MSO applications pending for MIB clearance

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has till now received a total of 850 multi-system operator (MSO) licence applications for digital addressable system (DAS) areas, a source in the ministry said.

Out of these, 169 applicants have been granted registration while 28 licences have been cancelled till 10 April. “We have issued few more licences after that but there is still a huge gap,” the source said.

This means that nearly 650 applications are pending even as the deadline for Phase III of DAS is approaching fast.

A large chunk of these applications have been received in 2015. These include that of Reliance Jio Media, a subsidiary of Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Industries Ltd’s (RIL) telecom arm Reliance Jio Infocomm. Reliance Jio Media is still awaiting security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Queried as to why the ministry is taking so much time to grant registrations to MSO applicants, the official said that a large chunk of them were received by 6 February 2015, the cut-off date for MSO registration for Phase III areas.

The source also pointed out that almost 20–25 per cent of the applications are incomplete due to which they are sent back to the applicants.

“We have received 850 MSO licence applications including provisional and cancelled licences. We have already granted 169 licences,” said the official.

“We are receiving 2–3 applications daily. We are trying to clear the applications as early as possible. Many a time the applications are incomplete,” he added.

MSO applications are granted only after clearance from the MHA. “It takes at least 3–4 months to grant an MSO licence. The MHA will also process security clearance within 90 days,” the official averred.

The MIB in its charter had said that it would process licences and permissions in a time-bound manner.

The ministry had stated that it would forward the applications related to DTH, MSO, teleport and TV channel within two months after the receipt of the completed applications to the ministries/departments concerned for necessary clearances.

For Phases III and IV of DAS, the ministry will grant only permanent registrations.

It is pertinent to note that the MIB has earned up to Rs 74.1 million in processing fee till 27 January 2015 from MSOs in the last four financial years.

During the fourth Task Force meeting on DAS, the ministry had said that it would consider setting up online facility for filing MSO registration.