Tata Dlala, Airtel Digital TV, Sun Direct, and Dish TV’s Accounting Under Scrutiny: CAG Report
Late last year, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) asked for a comprehensive audit of all Dish DTH service providers since the year they were established.
Several Indian direct-to-home (DTH) service providers have been investigated by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), including Tata Play, Airtel Digital TV, Sun Direct, and Dish TV. According to the note, the Center has asked for a special audit of these service providers over the long-running license fee dispute.
The investigation was requested by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) of India, which asked for a thorough audit of all DTH service providers since their establishment or the date the government granted them a license. Also, this action was taken because it is suspected that there is a discrepancy in the income of these companies.
To ensure that the amount given to the central government as license fee is correctly assessed and collected, according to the report, the I&B minister directed the CAG to conduct this particular audit. Following a request by DTH service providers for license fee waiver in May, which they justified by claiming a reduction in subscribers over time, this development took place. According to the report, both Videocon’s D2H TV and Big TV/Independent TV will be included in the audit.
As indicated earlier, an exemption was sought for the license fee that these DTH services have to pay to the Center as a percentage of their sales. According to the report, this amount is set at 8% of the company’s annual sales, as shown in its audited accounts.
The study estimates that the license fee for DTH, commercial TV services, FM radio, etc., will contribute more than Rs 1,000 crore to the economy in FY23. Direct-to-home (DTH) TV service providers may experience issues. The CAG has been asked by the government to conduct a special audit of these businesses. They have been at odds over license fees for a very long time. In this regard, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has sent a letter to the CAG.
All DTH services have been asked to conduct a thorough audit in this regard from the beginning till now. There may be disagreements about how these businesses calculate their income. The government has asked the CAG to scrutinize them for this reason. These include Sun Direct, Tata Play, Airtel Digital, and Dish TV. DTH providers requested exemption from license fee in May. He cited a decline in his customer base as the reason for this. He claims that several factors, including the introduction of streaming services, are to blame for his declining subscriber base.
There were six DTH licenses issued between 2003 and 2007. But for now, there are only four. These include Sun Direct, Tata Play, Airtel Digital, and Dish TV. The government has asked for an audit of all six DTH employees. The survey will also examine Videocon’s D2H TV and Big TV/standalone TV. These businesses could not be reached for comment. Keeping an unlicensed radio inside the home was illegal at the time, and there was a penalty for failing to renew it in time.
Decrease in income
More than 68 million people subscribe to DD Free Dish, the free DTH provider, along with Airtel Digital TV, Tata Play, Dish TV, and Sun Direct. Free DTH provides DTH services. DTH service providers have to give the government a portion of their revenue as license fee. This represents 8% of their annual sales. In FY2023, it is estimated that DTH license fees will cross Rs 1,000 crore. This includes FM radio licenses, commercial TV services, etc.
However, government officials are worried about the drop in revenue and it is not what was expected, according to the reports of these companies. The license fee controversy has been going on for a long time. The court is still hearing the case. Dish TV, owned by the Essel Group, received a notice from the government in December 2020 asking for a deposit of Rs 4,164 crore. Since 2003, the association has had to pay this amount in license fees and interest.
Edited by Prakriti Arora