Reliance Digital Services, the DTH service provided by Anil Ambani Group Reliance Communications will be shut down across India next month as the company’s license is expiring, media reports said. According to an advertisement published in a regional paper, the company notified shutting down the DTH service across India from November 18.
The decision to shut down the business comes following failed attempts to merge Reliance Digital Services with Sun Direct. Several other attempts to sell the DTH service to potential buyers did not turn fruitful either. The sale of its DTH services was a part of company’s long-term plan to reduce its debt. RCom’s net debt stands at 443.45 billion rupees (5.17 billion pounds) at the end of March 2017.
“Reliance Digital TV informs its customers that due to the expiry of our licence we will be shutting down our DTH services across India wef 18 November. Customers are advised to make alternative arrangements to keep watching their favourite TV channels. We regret the inconvenience caused,” Reliance Big TV said in a notice.
This is yet another setback for RCom after its merger deal with Aircel collapsed earlier this month. RCom had scrapped its merger with Aircel on October 3 citing legal and regulatory uncertainties and interventions by various parties. The Anil Ambani-led group had been trying to reduce its heavy debt by 250 billion rupees by merging its wireless business with Aircel.
However, some respite has come to RCom this week as the Department of Telecom (DoT) has approved the merger of Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL) into RCom, a deal which will add around 2 million customers and annual revenue of around Rs 700 crore to the Anil Ambani-led company.
The company is also in the process of reviewing its Rs 11,000 crore deal with Brookfield for 51% shares as the value Rcom’s mobile arm stakes will change due to lack of addition Aircel tenancies. Brookfield, which is planning to buy Rcom’s mobile arm stakes, will reportedly pay less than the previously agreed amount.
Earlier this month, Ericsson India filed insolvency petitions against the debt-laden telecom company and its subsidiaries. Reliance Communications reported its third quarterly loss in a row last month. It is trying to find ways to cut debt after lenders gave it a reprieve on loan repayments until the end of 2017. Earlier this year, rating agencies Fitch and Moody’s downgraded Reliance Communications’ debt rating deeper into junk grade. Moody’s cut it to Caa1 from B2, while Fitch lowered its rating on the company to CCC, implying that some kind of default on the company’s debt is a “real possibility”.