Independent TV’s DTH licence hinges on payment of spectrum charges to DoT

MUMBAI: Direct to home (DTH) operator Independent TV’s application for DTH licence will receive a favourable consideration from the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) only if it clears the dues related to spectrum charges to the Department of Telecom (DoT).

The DTH operator has filed an affidavit on 13 November disclosing the status of their claims and applications pending with the Department of Space (DoS) and MIB.

DoS and DoT counsel AP Sahay submitted that so far he has not received any instructions from MIB, but he has received instructions from DoT that the DTH operator has paid an amount of Rs. 3.74 crore approximately on 31 October and as on date, a sum of Rs. 3.16 crore approximately is due after taking into the above payment as dues of spectrum charges along with late fees.

Learned counsel for Antrix Corporation submitted that transponder charges have been paid by the DTH operator but the latest position may be verified by learned counsel by the next date.

The tribunal noted that the main issue is apparently between the DTH operator and DoT which is claiming dues of spectrum charges.

“It appears that till that issue is settled either finally or through an interim order, the petitioner’s prayer for the issuance of licence in its name may not receive favourable consideration by MoIB. This is subject to instructions given by MIB,” the tribunal said in its order.

The tribunal granted two weeks time to DoT and DoS to file a reply in respect of the status of dues against the DTH operator as well in respect of its application for grant of licence in its name.

It further stated the concerned respondent must keep in mind that the DTH operator has been paying spectrum charges as per its own calculation and the claim of dues is particularly on account of a dispute over AGR and that issue is pending adjudication before this tribunal because of the pendency of the same issue before the Apex Court.

“We have been given to understand that while the respondent can raise their bills they have undertaken not to demand the dues on account of their understanding of the AGR,” the tribunal said.

Directing the DoT, DoS, and MIB to file a suitable reply or status report within three weeks, the tribunal stated that the interim arrangement will continue till the next date. The matter has been posted under the same head on 18 December.

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