TDSAT to hear DTH ops plea on licence fee on 6 May

NEW DELHI: The petition by the three major direct-to-home (DTH) operators challenging the notice of the government for clearing arrears of licence fees will be heard on 6 May by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).


When counsel for the petitioners mentioned the petition before the Tribunal, counsel for the government said the DTH operators will not be pressurised in this regard till the case is taken up for hearing.


The government has been asked to file a reply within three weeks and the three petitioners – Tata Sky, Sun Direct TV and Reliance Big TV - will file rejoinders, if any, within one week of that.


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 and 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.


 According to the notice sent early last week, the six private operators had been asked to pay the amount within fifteen days.


 However, most of the operators contacted by 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.

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