A Group of Ministers is expected to consider a DoT proposal Friday
that may clear the way for state-owned telecom firms, BSNL and MTNL, to
venture into cable TV and broadcasting services to help infuse life into
the loss making companies.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) is learnt
to have forwarded several suggestions to the Group of Ministers, headed
by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, that include BSNL and MTNL entering
cable TV and broadcasting services, according to official sources.
said DoT has sought the GoM nod for "exploring new business opportunity
being created by the convergence of services and networks across
telecom (value-added services and Internet telephony), information,
cable TV and broadcasting media services".
The GoM on revival of
the two PSUs is scheduled to meet for the first time tomorrow to discuss
the proposals and its recommendations will be placed before the Cabinet
for a final decision.
BSNL losses, as per estimates, are expected
to be about Rs. 8,198 crore, and MTNL's around Rs. 3,300 crore for the
financial year 2012-13.
Sources said DoT has also proposed to the
GoM to provide financial support to BSNL and MTNL for retaining airwaves
beyond the initial quantity that was allocated to them for mobile and
other wireless services.
The government has decided to charge
one-time spectrum fee for airwaves held by operators beyond the initial
allocation for starting mobile services.
One-time fee for BSNL's GSM spectrum amounts to around Rs. 6,912 crore and MTNL Rs. 3,205 crore.
GoM may also consider the proposal of the two companies to surrender
wireless broadband spectrum. BSNL and MTNL were asked to pay Rs. 8,313.8
crore and Rs. 4,533.97 crore, respectively, on June 20, 2010, for the
airwaves that are being currently used to provide 4G services.
apart, DoT has sought GoM's nod for implementing voluntary retirement
scheme in both the PSU's for 1 lakh BSNL employees and 20,000 employees
Overall, the salary and pension expenses of MTNL
employees form 103 percent of the company's revenue, and for BSNL it is
DoT will also seek GoM's nod to discharge MTNL's pension liabilities by paying lumpsum amount of around Rs. 5,925 crore.
Department will ask GoM to consider providing preferential treatment to
both the state-run telecom firms in telecom services used by government
departments and other public sector units.