New Delhi: Broadcast regulator TRAI has initiated a consultation process to suggest guidelines for renewal of Direct to Home (DTH) licences after the I&B Ministry wrote to it seeking recommendations.
There are currently six players in the DTH segment who have been given licences for a period of 10 years.
On September 3, just few weeks before one of the licences was about to expire, the ministry wrote to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) seeking its recommendations on their renewal as the DTH guidelines were silent on the course of action after expiry of the 10-year licence period.
TRAI secretary Rajeev Agrawal wrote back saying that the time given for providing the recommendations was simply not sufficient as consultations had to be held.
He, however, added that in view of its subscriber base, a DTH company, whose licence had expired, should be allowed to continue operations subject to some conditions.
The ministry has accepted the suggestion, officials said.
In his letter, Agrawal questioned the I&B Ministry's delay in seeking recommendations. He said that the ministry was well aware that the DTH licences would start expiring from September 30, 2013 onwards.
"However, MIB chose to refer the matter to TRAI only in September 2013 and that too less than 4 weeks before the first licence is due to expire. MIB knows full well that TRAI has to follow an exhaustive public consultative process before giving its recommendations," Agrawal said.
The regulator, however, assured the ministry that it would start a consultation process immediately and has floated a consultation paper on October 1.
In its consultation paper, TRAI has asked if an entry fee be charged at the time of issuing a new licence to the existing DTH licencees. It further asked that if an entry fee is to be charged, then what should be its quantum.
It sought comments as what should be the period of the DTH licences to be issued to existing licencees on the expiry of the licence period of 10 years.
The regulator, among other issues, has also sought comments asking what should be the quantum and the validity period of the bank guarantee to be furnished by an existing DTH licencee on the issue of a new licence.
Various stakeholders have been asked by the regulator to give their comments by October 15.