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MIB yet to finalise new DTH policy; interim extensions granted

Interim extensions granted up to 30 June 2019 for licenses that were to expire

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MUMBAI: Direct-to-home (DTH) operators of India will have to wait a while if they were expecting something from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) regarding new DTH policy guidelines. In response to a question in the Parliament, Minister of State for MIB Rajyavardhan Rathore said that the government hasn’t yet finalised the new DTH policy.

Rathore also added that the licenses of those DTH operators whose interim renewals were getting expired on 31 December 2018 have already been granted interim extension up to 30 June 2019.

Last year TRAI had reiterated its recommendations to the Ministry on new licensing conditions for DTH players. The regulatory body had recommended that licences be issued for a period of 20 years and thereafter should be renewed every 10 years.

Earlier it was reported that MIB was looking to send the new DTH policy for Cabinet approval by the end of 2018.

The decades old DTH policy is being updated keeping the present scenario in mind, including fast changing technology and a slowing economy. Last month, MIB Secretary Amit Khare said that some sops would be handed to the DTH operators. However, he refused to comment on whether those sops would include financial rationalisation too like slashing of the annual revenue sharing with the government that is calculated at the rate of 10 per cent.

In the past, the DTH industry has demanded, among other things, cut in annual revenue share percentage to 6-8 per cent and other financial adjustments (like removal of content acquisition cost and an adjusted gross revenue) while calculating gross revenues.

Jawahar Goel, managing director of India’s biggest DTH operator (in terms of subscribers) Dish TV had written to policy-makers in October highlighting once again the industry’s woes and pleading for rationalisation of costs and taxes.

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