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Fear of cable bill hike reason for CAS failure: Survey

11-October-2004
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Fear of cable bill hike reason for CAS failure: Survey

Even as the Centre studies the option of introducing conditional access system (CAS), a majority of people in metropolitan cities, except Mumbai, are not in favour of it, a government-supported survey has found.

Fear of increase in monthly rentals, high cost of set-top box (STB) and technical complications associated with CAS are among the reasons cited for its rejection, a survey conducted, among others, by Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, has revealed.

Overall, 63 per cent per cent of respondents in the four metros gave a thumbs down to CAS with Kolkata leading the trend with 81 per cent. Delhi followed with 73 per cent and chennai at 65 per cent.

Notably, Chennai is the only place in the country where CAS is currently implemented, apart from a few areas in other metros. Mumbai, however, showed a liking for the system with 61 per cent respondents in favour. Among the reasons for this, they cited reduction in monthly bills, improved picture and sound quality, the survey found.

The survey revealed a close co-relation between monthly cable subscription charges and acceptance of CAS.

“Post-CAS monthly rental is the Chief reason for accepting/rejecting CAS. Keeping aside the variation in their perceptions, what emerges is that most respondents do not want an increase in their monthly cable bills, if CAS is implemented,” the survey said.

Interestingly, even while 71 per cent of those surveyed received 50 or more channels, most subscribers (83 per cent) watched less than 15 channels.

“Thus consumers pay for more than 35 channels which they do not watch. This is a clear example of restrictive trade practice followed in the cable TV industry,” the survey said.

Also, it said a majority of subscribers (seven out of ten who responded) do not have an option to change their cable operator.

“With no choice available, most of these households face a frequent hike in cable subscription charges,” it said.

Almost eight out of 10 respondents faced an increase in cable TV rates at least once in the last one year. In fact, three out of ten respondents found their monthly subscription charges increased frequently.

Trai has already asked operators to freeze tariffs as per rates prevailing on December 26, 2003, giving respite to consumers on this front.

The survey revealed that majority of consumers pay between Rs 150-300 as monthly cable TV charges.

Among key improvements consumers would like in the cable TV system was better picture and audio quality, effective complaint redressal system, and no change in the order of channels.

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