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PAC demands probe on undue favouritism towards Tata Sky and Sun DTH


30 Aug 2013
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The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has come down heavily on the Department of Space (DoS) and the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry for according preferential treatment to Tata Sky and Sun DTH while providing transponder services of various Direct to Home broadcast services.

The panel, headed by Congress MP KV Thomas, noted that while Tata Sky was fifth in order of preference of satellite capacity allocation, it was granted precedence on INSAT-4A and given exclusive rights at the prime slot of 83 degrees east in December 2005 superseding Doordarshan, which was later allocated capacity on INSAT 4B launched in January 2007.

The panel urged the DoS to give reasons for favouritism towards Tata Sky and demanded a time-bound investigation and stern action against the responsible persons. In the case of Sun DTH, the report says the DoS undercharged the transponders resulting in a loss of ₹2.94 crore from January 2008 to July 2010.

“The DoS first charged Sun DTH only for six transponders whereas 6.25 transponders were released to it. Subsequently, the prices were cut to ₹4.70 crore per transponder resulting in a loss of ₹46.92 lakh,” the report said.

Approving a Comptroller and Auditor General’s report that reviewed the ‘Open Sky’ policy of the Centre since the year 2000, the panel came to the conclusion that despite having sufficient funds, the DoS failed to bring back the services to INSAT system.

It said several Indian DTH service providers migrated to foreign satellites subsequently. The PAC report was adopted at a meeting of the panel last week. The CAG report had also found loopholes in the DTH band allotment.

The panel also asked the government to formulate a transparent and foolproof policy as well as guidelines for creation of Ku-band satellite capacity and its equitable and judicious distribution.

The panel wanted the Centre to form a single window for the approvals. It also recommended that the DoS should incorporate adequate price revision clauses in the transponder lease agreements at par with that of international rates.

DTH service is a satellite-based broadcast service that entails distribution of multi-channel television programmes in Ku-band. While the I&B Ministry is the nodal agency for broadcasting services in India, the DoS provides the infrastructure through satellite transponder capacity.

“The DoS failed to realise the communication satellites against their planned targets, achieving only 22 per cent, which resulted in foreign satellites providing 75 per cent of transponder services to Indian channels,” the report said.

It added that it is now a difficult task to lure DTH services to INSAT satellites as the DTH service is location specific and any change in satellite position is a costly affair. Approving the CAG’s findings, PAC said the DoS unilaterally allocated satellite capacity to DTH service providers.

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