Deposit and rental schemes on STBs to attract VAT

NEW DELHI: The controversy over Cas (conditional access system) does not seem to end. If the broadcasters have taken shelter in the various legal courts, consumers expressed heat over the issue of taxes at a forum meeting today with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

The broadcast and cable regulator clarified that value added tax (VAT) would have to be paid on the deposit and rental schemes for the set-top boxes (STBs) under Cas. Also, the entertainment tax would have to be paid per TV set.

This caused a heated discussion at the Trai consumer meeting held today, according to sources. Trai officials also admitted that the issue had come up, adding that clarifications have been sought, without wanting to say anything further.

In a CAS regime, multi-system operators (MSOs) will have to offer consumers digital STBs at a deposit of Rs 999 or Rs 250 on a monthly rental of either Rs 30 or Rs 45. VAT will have to be added to this.

The entertainment tax would have to be paid per TV set and not per household, Trai also clarified.

The meeting saw a lot of dust being kicked up by consumers and lasted for all of two-and-half hours, members who attended the meeting said.

When asked of this, Trai Advisor (Broadcasting) Rakesh Kakkar told "The issue had come up today." He refused to comment further on the issue.

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