Consumer groups have expressed their happiness regarding the TRAI notification on tariff issues in CAS areas, but have demanded a regulatory mechanism to address the complaints of consumers when a cable operator or MSO fails to comply with the TRAI Quality of Services norms.
“The government should set up a regulatory authority to address the complaints of the subscribers. The consumer cannot go to the court if the cable operator fails to resolve the issues in stipulated time period,” said S K Virmani, Senior Consultant, National Consumer Helpline.
The telecom regulator has ordered the service providers to provide cable connections within two working days of receiving the application. They also have to repair the set top box within 24 hours of receipt of complaint of malfunctioning and refund security deposit within seven days of return of the set top box.
The broadcasters are up in arms against TRAI’s decision to fix the ceiling on MRP of pay channels at Rs 5. However, consumer groups are demanding further cut in the price. “In Pakistan, where there are only four million cable subscribers, the foreign channels have been priced at Re 1. India has more than 65 million cable subscribers, why should we be charged Rs 5 for a pay channel?” asked S N Aggarwal, telecom and cable consultant, VOICE, an NGO working in this field.
Consumer bodies are also against the government decision to withdraw the 12-minute advertisement restriction on channels in CAS areas. “The government is dancing to the tune of the powerful broadcasters,” Aggarwal said.
“We could not understand whether the government is elected to work for the interest of the vast majority of consumers or a selected group of broadcasters,” lamented Virmani.
“If news channels with their pan-India bureaus can operate on FTA model, why can’t the entertainment channels, who can show their programmes again after 10 years, unlike the news channels? We don’t want any advertisements on pay channels. If the pay channels are finding it hard to survive on subscription revenue, let them turn free to air,” Aggarwal said.
“In future, the government should involve the consumer bodies while deciding on such issues of consumer interest,” he further said.
Aggarwal also appealed to the government to implement CAS in rest of the country and not restrict it to just the four metros.