MIB grants 6-month interim extension to DTH ops whose licences have expired

MUMBAI: The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) has granted interim extension of six months to direct to home (DTH) operators whose licences had expired on 31 December 2018, Information and Broadcasting (I&B) minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said in response to a question in the Lok Sabha.

Rathore also stated that the new DTH policy guidelines is under finalisation. “The new Direct-To-Home (DTH) policy guidelines is under finalisation. Licenses of those DTH operators whose interim renewals were getting expired on 31st December 2018 have already been granted interim extension up to 30.06.2019,” Rathore said in the Lok Sabha.

There are five private DTH operators namely Dish TV India (including Videocon d2h), Tata Sky, Sun Direct TV, Independent TV (formerly Reliance BIG TV), and Bharti Telemedia.

Dish TV is the first DTH operator whose licence had expired in September 2013. Since then, the ministry has been provisionally extending its licence till new DTH guidelines are finalised.

Barring Videocon d2h, which has merged with Dish TV, the licences of other five DTH operators has expired. Being the youngest player, Videocon d2h had launched services in June 2009.

Recently, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had reiterated most of its recommendations in response to back reference received from the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) on the authority’s recommendations related to the new direct to home (DTH) licence.

The authority had issued recommendations on ‘Issues related to New DTH Licenses’ on 23 July 2014.

The recommendations were further deliberated upon in the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) meetings held in the ministry. Based on the recommendations of IMC meetings for obtaining approval of HMIB a draft Cabinet Note was circulated on 27 February 2017 for inter-ministerial consultation.

Based on the IMC recommendations, comments of other Ministries/ Department and opinion of the MIB, the ministry differed with the TRAI recommendations on five key issues.

The TRAI has recommended issuing licences for a period of 20 years and thereafter a renewal of 10 years. Further, it had recommended a one-time entry fee of Rs. 10 crore in the new DTH licensing regime.

It has also recommended that the licence fee in the new DTH licensing regime should be charged as 8% of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) where AGR is calculated taxes paid to the government.

The TRAI also reiterated its recommendation by stating that the payment of licence fee on a quarterly basis is again a well-established practice in the Telecom Sector. Synergy in telecom and broadcasting sector needs to be developed keeping in view the growing convergence.