Instal set-top box or say bye to TV viewing

Last Updated 27 March 2013, 20:53 IST

If you are not viewing your television programmes using a set-top box (STB), there is every chance that your analogue cable connection (locally called the cable TV connection) could be disconnected in the next four days. 

The deadline for compulsory digitisation issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for Bangalore and Mysore City is March 31, 2013. Ever since the compulsory digitisation rule came into existence, members of Karnataka State Cable TV Operators’ Association have dragged Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and multi-service operators (MSOs) to the court for further extension of the deadline and over non-cooperation of nodal officers. The matter is scheduled for a hearing in the High Court on Thursday.

The compulsory digitisation rule was implemented following the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2011, passed in both the houses of Parliament.  The cable TV operators and MSOs are at loggerheads in getting a fair share of their stakes in the entire digitisation process.

Following the compulsory rule mandating all cable TV operators to transmit signals in a digitised format, the MSOs tied up with local TV operators to install STBs to all consumers.  The local cable operators have managed to digitise over 50 per cent of cable TV consumers in the City, but are still unhappy with the way MSOs are enforcing STB on consumers without any guidelines. 

“Customers are asking all sorts of questions like if there is any warranty period for STBs — what is the rate card for each channel and can channels be chosen? But we are unable to answer these questions as there is no proper instructions given to us,” said Karnataka State Cable TV Operators’ Association President V S Patrick Raju.

According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), STBs have to be given either on lease, rent or be sold to the consumer, but MSOs are not following any of the rules, he added.  Consumers have paid around Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500 for the STB in the belief that the box belongs to them, but the amount paid to cable operator is only activation charges, said Raju.

The MSOs on the other hand have been blaming cable operators for not educating the consumers about STBs and the actual charges.

“The actual price of STB is Rs 999, but the cable operators are charging more from consumers. Secondly, they are not informing the consumers that the amount paid is towards activation charges and that the STB does not belong to the consumers,” said Maria Ireland, an MSO in Bangalore.

(Published 27 March 2013, 20:53 IST)

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