TDSAT adjourns DTH licence fee case to 22 May

NEW DELHI: The petition by private direct-to-home (DTH) operators challenging the notice of the government for clearing arrears of licence fees was adjourned by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to 22 May.


The DTH operators were given time by chairman Aftab Alam and Kuldeep Singh to file their rejoinders following the reply by the government.


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.


Even as 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, I&B secretary Bimal Julka had earlier told that the apex court had not issued any stay order.


However, conscious that the TDSAT or the Supreme Court may be moved in the matter, a caveat had been filed by the Ministry in this regard.


The Ministry had recently 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. 


Meanwhile, Tata Sky late last month 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.


This amount covers license fee for the year 2013-14 according to the rate specified for license as well as past dues, for which the Ministry had raised a demand note recently.


TataSky MD and CEO Harit Nagpal had earlier said in a statement: “We hope that this will end the long standing dispute on the subject and pave the way forward for a constructive rationalisation of taxes with the support of our parent Ministry.” 

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