Regulators

DTH licence fee case adjourned yet again

NEW DELHI: The petition by the private direct-to-home (DTH) operators challenging the notice of the government for clearing arrears of licence fees has been adjourned once again. Reason: the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) wants to first decide on a similar case relating to actual gross revenue with regard to telecom.

 

Earlier, chairman Aftab Alam and Kuldeep Singh had adjourned the matter from 23 May to 8 July as the operators had not filed their rejoinders to the reply by the government.

 

The adjournment was allowed on a mention by the counsel for the various DTH operators.

 

TDSAT also noted that the earlier assurance by the government that it will not pressurise the operators in this regard till the case is taken up for hearing will continue.

 

The petitioners have alleged that the demand by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry is contempt of court as the matter in this regard is pending in the Supreme Court.

 

However, Information and Broadcasting Ministry secretary Bimal Julka had earlier told indiantelevision.com that the apex court had not issued any stay order. However, the government had filed a caveat in this regard, conscious that the TDSAT or the Supreme Court may be moved in the matter.

 

The Ministry had earlier this year sent a notice to the six private DTH operators with regard to licence fee dues amounting to Rs 2,066 crore. The private operators are Tata Sky, Dish TV, Airtel Digital TV, Reliance Big TV, Sun Direct and Videocon d2h.

 

According to the notice, the six private operators had been asked to pay the amount within 15 days.

 

However, most of the operators contacted said they had cleared the dues of licence fee.

 

The operators say the licence fee as demanded under the rules is on gross revenue (GR) whereas they have been asked to pay the fee on the basis of Actual Gross Revenue (AGR). The operators have said the fee should be only on subscription revenue and not on allied earnings such as dividend and interest income. 

 

Even as the matter was pending, Tata Sky had in April made a payment of Rs 383 crore to the Ministry to cover its license fee and other dues. A demand draft of the amount was submitted to the Ministry, even as other operators had said that they would prefer to wait till the next hearing.

 

Tata Sky said the amount covered the license fee for the year 2013-14 according to the rate specified for license as well as past dues.

 

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