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Post DAS, individual channel billing hits a roadblock

31-May-2013
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Post DAS, individual channel billing hits a roadblock

With the implementation of Digital Addressable System (DAS) in the country, recognising each customer on the cable delivery system is set to become more systematic. The objective is to make the customer aware about the channel choices, packages, rates, and so on. This will create a transparent billing pattern of the broadcast and cable industry.

As part of the DAS process, six months back TDSAT had asked cable operators to get their subscribers to fill in the Know Your Customer (KYC) forms at the earliest.

Six months down the line, the filling up of the KYC forms is not happening on the scale that it was planned, despite broadcasters running tickers on their channels asking customers to contact their nearest cable operator and fill up the forms.

When asked about the reason for this, Roop Sharma, President, Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) replied, “We are not against the billing system and the KYC forms, but it requires extra manpower to get the work done. Besides, there are certain problems that operators are facing in order to get this form filled, such as lack of customer awareness. But the biggest challenge is that broadcasters have still not announced the individual channel rates and all channels are being offered as a bouquet. Broadcasters should announce the rate of a channel on the TV screen as it is easily visible to all.”

Talking to exchange4media on condition of anonymity, one of the broadcasters said, “We have not announced our channel rate because we are not aware of our reach. Though we are getting the ratings from TAM, it is on a small scale.”

He added, “We are also not aware where all the LCOs are telecasting our channel. Once the KYC forms are filled we will be able to announce the channel rates.”

Another broadcaster called the digitisation process a half-baked one as, according to him, though the customers have got the set top boxes, digital accessibility is still lacking.

When asked about the billing format, he replied, “MSOs are getting less profit on their investment and that’s the reason why individual billing models are not working out and channels are coming in a bouquet. The business model needs to be viable.”

With channels still being offered as part of a bouquet and customers not getting the choices that digitisation had promised, it remains to be seen what steps the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will take to ensure that individual channel rates are declared at the earliest.

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