The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has stopped MSOs from switching off analogue channels in a bid to force consumers to buy set top boxes. Switching off of popular channels was decided by large MSOs in concurrence with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to give effect to the Ministry’s order of meeting the October 31 deadline for digitisation of cable television in four metros in the first phase.
TDSAT gave the order on the petition of ESPN Software India against switching off its signals by DEN, Hathway, WWIL and INCable. ESPN had requested the court to implead TRAI as a party to investigate and report whether the three ESPN channels had been de-activated/ blocked by the MSOs on their analogue network.
Although MSOs had denied having switched off the analogue signals, the Court appointed BECIL, a public sector undertaking, as a commissioner to ascertain whether the services of the three ESPN channels have been deactivated/ blocked by the MSOs and whether the viewers attached to the analogue network of the MSOs have been denied viewing of channel content. Court also directed BECIL as a commissioner to inspect the headends of the MSOs and carry out surprise inspections and give a report within the next four weeks.
The next hearing has been posted four weeks from now.
On the other hand, media reports state that MSOs are considering the option of pulling off channels genre wise before the digitisation deadline. Report also mentioned that couple of days back a meeting was held between the MIB, MSOs and broadcasters to make this pulling off of channels a reality so that consumers are bound to buy the set top boxes.