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MIB requests CAG to resolve the dispute over licence fees with DTH players

MIB has requested CAG to conduct an audit of the DTH TV service providers on the long-running dispute over licence fees. The ministry is not convinced that the amount submitted by way of licence fee is correctly assessed and collected.

Revenues from the DTH licence fee, along with those from commercial TV services, and FM radio are expected to exceed Rs 1,000 crore in FY23.

The DTH players include Airtel Digital TV, Tata Play, Dish TV and Sun Direct, and DD Free Dish. The audit will also cover Reliance Big TV and Videocon D2H.

In May 2022, DTH players had approached the government to waive the 8 percent licence fee imposed on them in line with a similar proposal for broadband services so that they remain competitive in the market.

DTH Association had approached the Information and Broadcasting Ministry following a proposal under the consideration of the DoT to waive the licence fee on broadband services.

In a letter dated May 11 sent to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the industry body said the direct-to-home (DTH) volumes have been declining quarter on quarter for a while now has put thousands of crores of investments and employment of over a lakh direct and indirect employees of the sector at risk. The industry body said broadband is expanding very fast and is being used for content distribution as well.

DTH Association welcomed the proposal to remove licence fees to help the consumers, but requested “that the same policy may be made applicable to DTH, and therefore seek a waiver of license fees in line with DoT’s proposed decision”.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had recommended the DoT to waive licence fees on broadband services for 5 years.

“Now with the licence fee being waived off for broadband, hence IPTV, OTT will become an even more formidable force and DTH will remain the only distribution platform paying an 8 percent licence fee while distributing just as cable, HITS, Freedish and IPTV do, making DTH most uncompetitive in comparison to every other content distribution platform,” the association said.

CT Bureau

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