Broadcasters have vehemently opposed the government proposal to auction licenses for satellite television channels and objected to a hike in license and processing fee claiming that the government should not aim to maximize its revenue by overburdening industry with unreasonable levies.

The objections were raised at a consultation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the regulator for the broadcasting sector, regarding issues faced by the sector.

Consultation on the Up-linking and Downlinking was held by the TRAI on Wednesday after a reference made by the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry.  During the consultations, presided over by TRAI Chairman RS Sharma, broadcasters such as Zee, and Viacom 18 highlighted that the concept of auction arises only when the resource is scarce. However, the same is not the case for satellite channels.

Therefore, creation of artificial scarcity for revenue maximization would unnecessarily overburden the industry. Furthermore, Broadband India Forum stated that auctioning of satellite is not feasible due to India’s obligation under various regulations, sources said.

It is learnt that broadcasters such as Zee, Sony Pictures, and Viacom 18 stated that the government should not aim to maximize its revenue by overburdening industry with unreasonable levies. Furthermore, with respect to introduction of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) component in the license fee, stakeholder argued that such introduction will unfavourably impact the ease of doing business in the country, sources added. Industry sources stated that whilst the government wants to encourage investment and create employment opportunities the intent of the ministry seemed to not elicit that spirit. The stakeholders in the discussion criticised the I&B ministry. – Asian Age