20 Oct 2017
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TDSAT to hear DTH licence case after deciding on telecom AGR case

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has once again adjourned the direct-to-home (DTH) licence fee case. Hence, the government will not take any coercive action against the DTH operators in the interim.

The tribunal will hear the matter once it reaches a decision on the telecom AGR case, which is expected to come up for hearing this month, media lawyers told TelevisionPost.com.

Meanwhile, the government will have to file detailed replies in the case following which the DTH operators will have an opportunity to file rejoinders.

Earlier, the government had filed brief replies to petitions filed by Tata Sky, Bharti Telemedia (Airtel Digital TV) and Sun Direct. This was again followed by rejoinders from the DTH operators.

In its reply, the government argued that the DTH operators must not get relief since the Supreme Court had settled the argument based on the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR). The government also contended that the TDSAT cannot adjudicate whether or not licence fee must be paid on the basis of AGR.

The DTH operators have been maintaining that the government should not have raised the licence fee demand since the matter is pending in the Supreme Court.

Irked by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s (MIB) licence fee demand, the six DTH operators challenged the matter in the TDSAT on the ground that the matter is sub judice as the case is pending in the Supreme Court.

The MIB had on 24 March asked DTH operators to pay licence fee demand of Rs 2,066 crore ( Rs 20.66 billion) based on AGR. It had raised the licence fee demand based on Clause 3.1.1 of DTH licence.

It must be noted that Tata Sky, one of the petitioners in the case, had recently paid Rs 383 crore (Rs 3.83 billion) as licence fee to the government even though the matter is sub judice.