Involve MIB in transponder allocation to DTH, says House panel


NEW DELHI: The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has expressed that no meeting of the INSAT Coordination Committee (ICC) has taken place despite the fact that leasing of transponders to direct-to-home operators involved the information and broadcasting ministry as much as it concerned the Department of Space.

In its action-taken report relating to its fortieth (2016) report on the subject, it has said that interactions, even if formal, between officials of DoS and MIB during the said period is entirely different from that of a decision  taken in the  meeting of ICC consisting of secretary-level  officers  of the concerned  Departments as stipulated   under SATCOM Policy.

The Committee, while finding no merit in the DoS contention that it acted based on the  "delegated powers"  of ICC, said the Department cannot overrule the norms prescribed in SATCOM Policy.

The Committee,  therefore, reiterated its earlier observation that DoS did not follow the prescribed procedure and exceeded  its sphere by taking unilateral decisions bypassing the mechanism on issues which were beyond its mandate and wanted to be apprised  whether any punitive action has been taken in this regard.

At the same time, the Committee regretted that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had failed to give its action taken reply on the observation of the Committee last year, and reiterate its earlier recommendation that all the stakeholders be involved in the sound planning and judicious decision for allocation of transponder capacity, paving way for a more transparent approach which would help in re-building of trust and faith of DTH service providers in the DoS and the Ministry.

The Committee while noting from the reply of the DoS that the ICC meetings are being regularly convened as and when required wanted to be apprised of the total number of meetings held after 2011 and the capacity earmarked by the ICC for allocation to non-governmental users.

The Committee  observed  from  the  reply  of  the  DoS  that  MIB is a member of the ICC and fully aware of the formal mechanism  as part of the deliberation in the 67th meeting of the ICC that "all   applications for TV uplinking and space segment requirements  are being forwarded  to DoS for clearance before licenses are issued".  The Committee was of the ?considered view? that forwarding of all applications for clearance is again different from allocating satellite capacity without earmarking for non-governmental users by the ICC.

The Committee highlighted that since DTH was a broadcasting service, it came directly under the purview of MIB as it was responsible for all matters relating to broadcasting in the country. According to the SATCOM policy, all allocations were made by DoS with the approval of the ICC. Being a? member of the ICC, MIB was also involved in satellite capacity allocation. Since the ICC was not convened, MIB and other members were inadvertently left out of the decision making process. The Committee was ?shocked to note the lackadaisical approach of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting as it remained a mute spectator while DoS was flouting norms by directly allocating satellite capacities and the MIB even did not bother to intervene for convening the ICC of which it was a member?.

The Committee was of the view that it was high time that the different wings of the Government be proactive in their approach and keeping in view the national interest, coordinate properly for taking decisions which were crucial both commercially and strategically.

The Committee recommended that the Ministry as well as DoS make sincere and concerted efforts to convene the ICC meetings regularly so that all the relevant stakeholders were involved in the sound planning for allocation of transponder capacity thereby paving way for a more transparent approach which could help in re? building of trust and faith of DTH service providers in the DOS and the Ministry.

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