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Government not relax DTH entry rules

06-May-2002
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Government not relax DTH entry rules

The Government is unlikely to relax the stiff entry norms prescribed for permitting companies to get into direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting unless it becomes a platform for the masses.

Despite repeated pleas by the Star Group chief, Mr James Murdoch, to ease the entry norms, senior officials in the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry ruled out any relaxation in the near term, saying that DTH was still an elitist platform.

According to market estimates, for viewing channels through the DTH, a consumer would have to cough up anything between Rs 8,000-10,000 for a set top box. This apart, the monthly subscription expense could be over Rs 1,000 for a bouquet of channels.

The industry has been asking for easing of guidelines for DTH. In fact, Mr Murdoch met top Ministry officials a few days ago to discuss the DTH issue.

The Planning Commission too in its 10th Working Group report had said that the present policy on DTH needs to be reviewed as it has restricted the growth of the market and defeated the very objective of consumer interest.

Space Television, which has been the first company to apply for a licence, has also indicated that the 10 per cent revenue sharing arrangement with the Government would make the service unviable. It has also made a case for lowering of import duties on set top boxes.

The Government had come up with stringent guidelines for DTH and had capped total foreign investment, which includes foreign direct investment, investments by non-resident Indians, overseas corporate bodies and foreign institutional investors at 49 per cent. It had also stipulated that a broadcasting company could not hold more than 20 per cent in a DTH venture.

Source: Business Line

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