The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) highlighted in its directives published on December 2, 2013 certain norms to be adhered to by Multi-System Operators (MSOs) providing TV services through Digital Addressable System cable services.
The guidelines issued under section 13, read with sub-clauses (i) and (v) of clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 11, of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 and regulation 14, 15, 16 and 24 of the Standards of Quality of Service (Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems) Regulations, 2012 (12 of 2012) specify the payment and billing norms for MSOs across India operating independently or through their LCOs.
The guidelines directly address 29 registered MSOs across the country. The highlights include:
a) Every multi-system operator either directly or through its linked local cable operator, shall give to every subscriber the bill for charges due and payable by such subscriber for each month or for such other period as agreed between the parties, for which such charges become payable by the subscriber.
b) In case of post-paid bills, the subscriber shall be billed, generally on monthly basis and the bill shall contain the Service Tax Registration Number and the Entertainment Tax Registration number of the multi-system operator.
c) The entries in the bills shall be itemised to indicate the price of individual channels or bouquet of channels along with the names of channels in the bouquet, charges for basic service tier and the channels comprised therein, charges for set top box, taxes along with the rates of taxes levied and the charges for value added services availed by the subscriber, if any.
d) Every multi-system operator or its linked local cable TV operator, as the case may be, shall give 15 days’ time, from the date of the bill, to every subscriber for making payment of the bill and in case the subscriber fails to make payment after expiry of the due date of payment, the multi-system operator or its linked local cable operator may charge simple interest of twelve percent per annum on the amount due for the delay in making payment.
e) The MSO or its linked LCO shall issue a proper receipt for every payment made by the subscriber.
f) Every MSO or its linked LCO shall on request from a subscriber, who has been provided pre-paid service, supply to such subscriber, at a reasonable cost, the information relating to the itemized usage charges showing actual usage of service.
g) Every MSO shall, on request from the subscriber, change his payment plan from pre-paid to post-paid or from post-paid to pre-paid, without any extra charge.
The regulatory authority also stated that it will interfere in cases from time to time to protect the interest of the subscribers or monitor the quality of service.