Broadcast regulatory body, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, has started the consultation process for setting guidelines for renewal of Direct to Home (DTH) licenses in India. This move comes after the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting wrote to TRAI, asking for the procedure to be set. At the moment, the DTH guidelines do not have a set procedure for renewing DTH operator licenses, which have all been individually issues for 10 years. (Read More: TRAI)
Dish TV was the first DTH operator to get the license, back on 1st October 2003, and its license period finished at the end of September this year. Because of any lack of clarity on the renewal process, Dish TV has been asked to continue with the services under the existing terms and conditions. However, once the final policy is issued by the government, Dish TV will have to comply with those rules, even for this interim period. (Read More: Dish TV)
TRAI’s consultation paper says, “Presently, there are six pay DTH operators in the country. M/s ASC Enterprises (now M/s Dish TV India Ltd) was the first DTH licencee which got the WOL for starting its DTH services on 1st October 2003. The other five DTH operators got the WOLs during 2006 to 2008. The first DTH licence was due to expire on 30th September 2013. The DTH Guidelines are silent on the course of action to be adopted after expiry of the 10 year licence period.”
At the moment, to start a DTH operation, a company has to apply with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). MIB, after checking that the company meets the eligibility conditions, obtains the security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and clearance for usage of satellite from the Department of Space (DoS). Once the clearances are obtained, the company is asked to pay the entry fee of Rs. 10 crore. On payment of the entry fee, MIB communicates its intent to the company to issue a licence. Next, the company has to approach Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) for SACFA1 clearance. Once the SACFA clearance is obtained, the company has to give a bank guarantee of Rs. 40 crore and sign the licence agreement with MIB. After this, the company has to apply to WPC for obtaining the Wireless Operating Licence (WOL). The duration of the DTH licence is 10 years from the date of issue of the WOL. Licences to establish, maintain and operate the DTH platform are granted under Section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885, and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933.