The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved revision in guidelines for providing direct to home (DTH) services in the country, which includes issuance of licences for a period of 20 years instead of 10 years and reduction in licence fee. The amended DTH guidelines, with longer licence period and clarity on renewals, relaxed FDI limits, etc., will ensure fair degree of stability and new investments in the sector along with employment opportunities, the Cabinet note said.
Briefing media after Cabinet meeting, union minister Prakash Javadekar said that the change in guidelines would also allow 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the DTH sector. Till now, the FDI was limited to 49 per cent, he said.
While the Commerce Ministry had spoken of 100 per cent FDI in the DTH sector, the guidelines of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry needed to be changed, the minister added.
Earlier on December 7, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued a consultation paper seeking views and comments on the recommended regulatory framework for DTH?services. While a written response was sought by December 14, feedbacks from stakeholders were expected by December 19.
As per the revised norms, DTH licences will be issued for a period of 20 years instead of present cap of 10 years, while it may be renewed further by 10 years at a time. Now the licence fee will be collected on quarterly basis in lieu of presently annual basis.
Besides, the government has also revised licence fee from 10 per cent of gross revenue (GR) to 8 per cent of adjusted gross revenue (AGR). The AGR will be calculated by deduction of GST from GR.
The Cabinet also approved the proposal to allow DTH operators to operate to a maximum of 5 per cent of their total channel carrying capacity as permitted platform channels. A one-time non-refundable registration fee of Rs 10,000 per PS channel will be charged from a DTH operator.
Among others, DTH operators will be allowed to share DTH platform and transport stream of TV channels on voluntary basis. Distributors of TV channels will be permitted to share the common hardware for their Subscriber Management System (SMS) and Conditional Access System (CAS) applications, as per the Cabinet statement.
"The cap of 49 per cent FDl in the existing DTH guidelines will be aligned with the extant government (DPIIT's) policy on FDl as amended from time to time," the Cabinet said.
The Cabinet said that the proposed reduction is intended to align the licence fee regime applicable to telecom sector and will be prospectively applied. The difference may also enable DTH service providers to invest for more coverage leading to increased operations and higher growth and thereby enhanced and regular payment of licence fee by them, it said.
"Registration fee for platform services is likely to bring a revenue of approximately Rs 12 lakh. Sharing of infrastructure by the DTH operators may bring in more efficient use of scarce satellite resources and reduce the costs borne by the consumers. Adoption of the extant FDI policy will bring in more foreign investment into the country," it said.
By Chitranjan Kumar