Dish TV’s Jawahar Goel asks TRAI to review high licence fee for DTH operators
In its continued efforts to highlight the license fee issue faced by the DTH industry in India, Jawahar Goel, CMD, Dish TV India Ltd, has written a letter to the Chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), highlighting the issues that DTH is facing due to high license fee and has requested TRAI to look into this.
In his letter, Goel stressed that the imposition of licence fee only on DTH operators was not only “unjust, unfair, discriminatory, biased, but also arbitrary” in not treating DTH operators and other players like broadcasters, cable operators, and HITS on the same footing.
It was pointed out that DTH used the same resources which are used by HITS operators or broadcasters, that is, satellite capacity, “however, in exclusion to other similarly placed platforms, only DTH operators are charged licence fee”.
Goel argued that under the uplinking/ downlinking guidelines for Indian uplinked channels or uplink from foreign soil, in substance carry out the activity of propagation of content through airwave (sky wave) on a permitted frequency to the designated channel and then downlinking the same channel from a satellite to a designated teleport in form of reception right to the third party. Similarly, a DTH operator carried out activity of transmitting the received content through carrier waves on a permitted frequency to a designated satellite and thereafter making it available to the viewers for the purpose of reception.
“Thus, in substance the activity carried out by the broadcasters and DTH operators is one and the same. In this aspect, both stand in the same category and on same footing. Therefore, subjecting DTH operator to licence fee while forbearing broadcasters and other DPOs is discriminatory,” Goel maintained.
Further, citing the Interconnection Regulations 2017 and Tariff Order 2017 notified by TRAI, Goel requested that the content fee collected for and paid to the broadcasters be allowed as a deduction while calculating the DTH licence fee.
He further stated that collections being done by the DTH industry, such as subscription charges collected from subscribers, shall be only “for and on behalf of” the broadcasters. Accordingly, all the DPOs, including the DTH operators, will act as mere ‘collection agent’ of the broadcasters, qua the subscription charges.