Police, Dish Home in drive against DTH sets of Indian companies

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KATHMANDU, June 23: The government along with the only DTH service provider in the country have removed over 10,000 DTH sets on the grounds that they were illegally installed.

Following instructions from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), the Home Ministry started raiding houses to remove DTH sets of Indian companies. Nepali DTH service provider has also claimed to have replaced around 8,000 illegal DTH sets with Dish Home, the only DTH service provider in the country.

Under the campaign, Dish Home replaces the set in Rs 2,000 only whereas new subscribers need to cough up Rs 5,000 for the installation.

Although it is against the law to use DTH offered by Indian companies, customers are using Indian DTH services like those from Airtel, Tatasky, Dish TV and others, citing reasons like lower cost, a-la cart options, and large number of channels. However, a Dish Home offical Sudip Acharya said that people of the Terai region and rural areas have been using Indian DTH from the time when Nepali DTH was not available. "Of late, people are switching over to our network voluntarily for Nepali contents," he added.

After a secretary-level decision in 2005, the use of foreign DTH was made illegal. Subscribers using illegal DTH can be punished under the existing Customs Act 2007. As per the Act, the government can treat such subscribers as smugglers, seize the equipment, and ask for a penalty worth the price of the equipment or send to imprisonment up to five years.

Joint-secretary at MoIC, Mahendra Prasad Guragai, said that under the instruction of Home Ministry, policemen conducted raids in Hetauda, Sunsari, Siraha and Dhankuta and removed hundreds of DTH sets of Indian companies.

Lately, Television Broadcasters Nepal (TBN) expressed its support for removing illegally installed DTH.

Features such as better picture and stereo sound quality are attracting people towards DTH. Moreover, people of the rural areas who don´t have access to cable TV are more attracted to DTH. It offers digital satellite service that provides television services direct to subscribers from anywhere using wireless technology. Under this technology, TV channels are sent to subscriber´s television direct from satellite. But, the illegal DTH is causing massive revenue loss to local service provider and the country´s revenue is going out of the border.

Although ministry officials claim to have taken the task of removing illegal DTH in right earnest, Dish Home officials said that the government is not addressing the problem in a serious manner. "It is very hard to replace illegal DTH with our effort alone," Acharya said. He said the problem could be easily resolved if the government closes customs points and initiates action to control the open marketing and business of Indian DTH in the Terai region.

He said that the number of subscribers has reached around 60,000. According to an estiamte, there are over 50,000 illegal DTH sets still in operation.

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