A few weeks back, Independent TV had hit a wall when it had to stop operations due to disconnection from Antrix corporation which provides satellite services to Independent TV. Now in a new development, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has issued a direction to the DTH service provider to pay Rs 12 crore to Antrix corporation to get the signals reconnected for resuming operations. The detailed order from the telecom tribunal says that the DTH provider should pay Rs 5.83 crore along with a Rs 6 crore bank guarantee. Alternatively, the provider should furnish Rs 12 crore worth of bank guarantees valid for at least two months for the restoration to go through.
Antrix Encashes Bank Guarantees Worth Rs 15 Crore
The telecom tribunal, in its order, noted, “As soon as the petitioner complies with this part and furnishes the bank guarantee or makes the payment, of respondent no. 1 shall reconnect the signals.” It is worth noting that Antrix corporation is Indian Space Research Organization’s commercial arm and it provides satellite services to Independent TV. However, following non-payment of dues, Antrix disconnected services to Independent TV on June 12. After this, the corporation went on to encash the bank guarantees worth Rs 15 crore which was provided by Independent TV previously.
After the disconnection, Independent TV reached out to tribunal and asked that Antrix be directed to resume supply of signal. The DTH service provider also requested the tribunal that the corporation be asked to enter into a long-term lease agreement on the grounds that now it has been granted the required licence by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) on specific conditions and this license stands valid till December 31, 2019. The operator also said that the dues being talked about that stage were only Rs 14.8 crore. It also said that it has asked the MIB for meeting the requirements of the bank guarantee by July 6. As per the information from the MIB counsel, the ministry has received this letter on Wednesday only.
Best Option for Independent TV to Furnish Bank Guarantees
The tribunal has said that the negotiations for a long term lease agreement would take some time, and for availing signals till the next date. It also said that the DTH provider should be made to pay the arrears towards Antrix which sum up to be Rs 5.83 crore. The TDSAT order said, “Since the main prayer of the petitioner is a direction to Antrix to enter into a long term lease agreement, we direct both the parties to enter into negotiations so that a final decision in this regard may be taken at an early date, preferably within four weeks from the date of resumption of supply of signals.”
As per Antrix counsel, the dues for a month of service would create additional liability of Rs 5 crore on the head of Independent TV. Given this fact, the best option for Independent TV would be to direct the DTH provider to furnish bank guarantee so that it covers three months of space segment charges.