DTH operators,MNCs lobby for OPEN SKY policy…


22 Mar 2011
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New Delhi: Despite the growth of Indian media and entertainment sector, both multinational media firms and local direct-to-home (DTH) operators have urged for a radical shift in the government policy failing which the sector will be badly hit financially.

On its part, Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) has urged for an immediate need to adopt a ‘Open Sky’ policy for commercial satellites else there will be an acute shortage of both C and Ku band transponders for hosting over 500 channels that India will throw up soon.

Also, a simplified FDI policy, if not announced soon will turn away nearly $1 billion media investment fund lined up by foreign firms and PE funds for India.

Back home, the DTH operators including Dish TV, Airtel digital TV, Tata Sky, Sun Direct and others have urged the state government to exempt their services from the entertainment tax net failing which they will have to shell out over R500 crore collectively.

According to DTH operators, the collective tax liability on DTH operators comes to around 35 while they are helping the government achieve digitalisation.

For 2010-11 fiscal, the DTH operators will have to pay close to Rs450 crore in entertainment tax to the various state governments whereas the combined losses of the industry will cross Rs5,000 crore.

Speaking on levying of entertainment tax by half-dozen state government, Ajai Puri, director and CEO, Airtel Digital TV, Bharti Airtel said: “Between Uttar Pradesh, MP, Maharashtra,Biha, Delhi and Gujarat, over 80% of the entertainment tax is generated.

Just as the Rajasthan government has exempted the entertainment tax, we urge all state governments to keep DTH services out of entertainment tax net.”

Commenting on the broader issue of scarcity of satellite-transponders, CASBAA said: If India does not move forward to adopt a ‘Open Sky’ policy for commercial satellites, the growth in the broadcasting and cable sector will get badly hit.”

According to CASBAA, the lack of ‘open sky’ policy for satellites adopted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and backed by the goverment has put on hold various business plans of Asian operators for India including VSAT operations and satellite-based internet connectivity among others.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investment is lined up for India.

But investors and leading Asian firms are wary of actually investing in India due to various ambiguities in policies, “CASBAA CEO Simon Twiston Davies told FE.
Currently, all broadcasters or DTH operators have to tie up with a satellite operator only through Isro.

However, the government has given permission to over 650 television channels while another 380 are pending approval.

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