Independent TV operations shut down for good
Direct to Home (DTH) operator Independent TV’s operation has shut down for good. The shutdown of Independent TV has been confirmed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators report.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its report was quoted as saying, ” The marginal reduction in the subscriber base as compared to previous quarters (up to March 2019) may be due to closure of DTH Services by M/s Independent TV Limited“.
The shutdown is likely to have happened between August – September 2019 period itself with TRAI Press Release 86 of 2019 indicating that the marginal reduction in the Pay DTH subscriber base may be due to closure of DTH services by M/s Independent TV Ltd.
TRAI’s Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators report for April-June 2019 had mentioned “Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has suspended the interim renewal of DTH license granted in the name of M/s Independent TV Limited for the present and will be reconsidered only after resumption of transmission of channels by the said service provider. The decision was taken by the Ministry as it had received numerous complaints from the consumers against M/s Independent TV Limited regarding total blackout of DTH service.”
Independent TV’s major problems had started after the introduction of the New Tariff Order which played spoilsport in its plans. In June 2019 TDSAT had stayed Antrix’s disconnection notice against Independent TV, giving the DTH operator time to pay the dues. However, with its accounts frozen in connection with Bikebot scam, it was unable to pay Antrix which led to the disconnection of signals.
It kept extending the date of signal resumption and came up with a plan to launch ITV in a new 2.0 version which fell flat as well. The last attempt to relaunch on Independence Day fell flat and marked the end of its service. In late September, it asked TDSAT to reverse its earlier order with Independent TV unable to pay Antrix.
Independent TV had faced many problems such as disconnection of signals from broadcasters, set-top box hanging issues with distributors filing case of harassment and fraud against the company owners with TRAI.
In November 2019, Tata Sky had laid the blame of DTH operators shutting shop and merging on the New Tariff Order. Tata Sky had said, “The net effect of the NTO has been that DTH operators, LCOs, and broadcasters/channels are shutting shop. Reliance Big TV has stopped transmission. Videocon d2h has merged with Dish TV. Media reports claim a further possible merger in DTH.”
Independent TV’s website domain has also expired with the domain up for sale. The social media handles of the DTH operator had last posted in August 2019. Once it was clear that there was no chance for its restart communications from the Independent TV side completely went dead. It had around 1 million customers before it shutdown.
Indiacast, Greycelles18 Media and Cinema TV petitions against Independent TV continue to be heard in the TDSAT. The matters are lined up for hearing with currently no update on whether Independent TV has cleared their dues or not.
The shutdown of Independent TV has reduced the number of pay DTH operators down to 4. It is further expected to drop down to 3 with Airtel Digital TV and Dish TV likely to merge soon.