TDSAT allows Independent TV to procure three more transponders from Antrix

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has allowed beleaguered direct to home (DTH) operator Independent TV to procure three more transponders from Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Independent TV counsel submitted before the tribunal that it has approached Antrix for three additional transponders on suitable terms on account of business requirements.

The DTH operator had sought a clarification that the interim order of this tribunal dated 23rd April 2018 and also subsequent orders requiring the existing arrangement as permitted by this tribunal to continue should not stand on the way of Antrix in considering its business proposed for additional transponders.

“Without going into the merits of such request, we clarify that it will be open for the respondent to consider grant of license for additional transponders to the respondent, if made by the petitioner, in accordance with law and the policy governing such matters,” the tribunal stated.

The interim arrangement shall continue till the next date. The matter has been posted under the same head on 12th February 2019.

Meanwhile, the learned counsels for ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB), Department of Telecom (DoT), and Department of Space (DoS) submitted that a joint meeting of the concerned departments has already taken place, and hence, some more time is required for filing reply.

As prayed, the tribunal granted two weeks’ further time is granted for filing reply, which may be joint or separate. Time for rejoinder shall be considered on the next date.

As reported earlier, Independent TV’s application for DTH licence will receive a favourable consideration from the MIB only if it clears the dues related to spectrum charges to the DoT.

In the earlier hearing, 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 had submitted that the 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 had 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 MIB. This is subject to instructions given by MIB,” the tribunal had said in its order.

The tribunal had 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.