The Indian government on Friday allowed infrastructure sharing, where feasible, by DTH operators, while laying down norms for payment of licence fee and those related to platform services on a satellite service.
“Wherever technically feasible, the DTH operator may share the DTH platform infrastructure on voluntary basis. The infrastructure sharing will be allowed for DTH services only and not for other distribution platform operators like MSOs or HITS operators,” the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said in an advisory.
This means that a DTH operator cannot share its infrastructure with an MSO or a HITS operator, though such sharing can happen between an existing DTH service and a new applicant.
India has four private sector DTH operators — Tata Play, Dish TV (plus D2H), Airtel Digital and Sun Direct — apart from public broadcaster Prasar Bharati’s FTA service, DD FreeDish.
As far as infrastructure sharing between existing and new DTH operators go, the MIB advisory states, “The new applicant and existing licensee will jointly submit a detailed proposal for infrastructure sharing giving details of the infrastructure proposed to be shared and in the manner infrastructure is proposed to be shared as well as roles and responsibilities of each to Ministry of l&B with a copy to WPC and NOCC, DoT.”
Of course, such an arrangement is subject to various stipulated conditions and necessary clearances from a host of government agencies, including clearance of satellite use and transponder sharing.
Licence Fee Payment Guidelines: The DTH licensee shall pay an annual fee equivalent to 8 percent of its adjusted gross revenue (AGR), calculated by excluding GST from gross revenue as reflected in the audited accounts of the company for that particular financial year, the advisory said.
The minimum annual license fee shall be subject to 10 percent of the entry fee and the license fee will have to be paid on a quarterly basis, the quantum of which will have to be equal to the actual license fee payable for the preceding quarter.
The first payment of license fee for the previous quarter shall be made on the basis of provisional account for the quarter within one month of the end of a particular quarter. The annual settlement of the license fee shall be done at the end of the financial year.
The licensor will have the right to modify the license fee as a fixed percentage of AGR during the validity of license period.
Platform Services Norms: The government has said that the programme transmitted by the DTH operator as a platform service shall be exclusive and the same shall not be permitted to be shared directly or indirectly with any other distribution platform operator (DPO).
In case the same programme is found available on the platform service of any other DPO, MIB may issue direction to immediately stop the transmission of such a programme and it also reserves the right for cancellation of registration of such a service of the DTH operator.
Platform services are programmes transmitted by DPOs exclusively to their own subscribers and do not include Doordarshan channels and registered TV channels or foreign TV channels that are not permitted to land in India.
The total number of permitted platform services for a DTH operator shall be capped at 5 percent of the total channel-carrying capacity of the platform.
Apart from other conditions, a one-time non-refundable registration fee of Rs. 10,000 per platform service channel will be charged from a DTH operator.