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Updated: January 18, 2014 01:25 IST

5 lakh TV sets may go blank after January 31

Special Correspondent
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‘This is the final deadline for Bangaloreans to install Set Top Boxes’

Up to five lakh TV sets in the city might go blank if they are not connected to Set Top Box (STB) by January 31, 2014.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) adviser Sibichen K Mathew on Friday said that only 80 per cent of television sets had been covered till December 31, 2013, the earlier deadline for implementation of Digital Addressable Cable TV system.

TRAI had initially set March 31, 2013 as the deadline, but extended it to November 30 and then December 31 considering the enormity and complexity of the task.

There are around 30 lakh TV sets in Bangalore of which 21 lakh have been tagged with STB, sources in the industry said. Around four lakh TV owners have opted for Direct To Home (DTH) connections.

Dr. Mathew directed Multi System Operators (MSOs) to disconnect the signal to cable operators who fail to provide details of their consumers through the Consumer Application Forms (CAF) on or before January 31. The consumer should insist on the bill and those who do not get CAFs from the local cable operator, they can approach MSOs.

The new system

The new system ensures that subscribers pay only for channels they have chosen. From March 2014, cable operators are expected to issue bills containing the break up of charges for subscribed channels, STB and taxes.

“TRAI wants to ensure accountability,” Mr. Mathew said.

But Karnataka State Cable Operators Association president Patrick Raju claimed that cable digitisation would lead to a monopoly. This would not only kill the local cable operator’s business but also burden consumers with high tariff in future, he said. “According to TRAI guidelines, cable operators have to merely collect subscriptions from consumers and hand them over to MSOs. Post-digitisation, MSOs may hike the subscription fee. Since they are the only service providers, consumers will have no option but to pay up,” he said.

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