Cable operators stage protest

Cable operators protesting at the Hathway office on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: V Sreenivasa Murthy

Cable operators across the State are up in arms against Multiple System Operators (MSOs), who run local cable networks, for switching off services over the past two days, asking consumers to migrate to the a la carte system as per new TRAI guidelines.

TV screens have gone blank in many houses in the city and are being restored only after the consumer picks the a la carte channels for the connection.

V.S. Patrick Raju, president, Karnataka State Cable TV Operators’ Association, said most MSOs have switched off services forcing consumers to migrate immediately.

“TRAI in its recent order extended the deadline for migration to March 31, but did not bar MSOs from precipitating migration in the intervening period. Thus MSOs were legally not in the wrong, but we request they effect migration to the new scheme gradually and not force consumers to do it immediately,” he said.

Cable operators held a protest in front of the Hathway office in the city on Thursday demanding the same.

D.S. Naik, a resident of Vidyaranyapura was angry that his TV screen has gone blank over the past two days. “I read TRAI extended the deadline. But suddenly the screen has gone blank. I was paying ₹400 for over 450 channels and in the new a la carte scheme, am now paying ₹580 for 140 channels. There is a GST of 18% on the cable bill as well. My cable bill has shot up while the number of channels I get is only a fraction of what I got earlier,” he rued.

Cable operators complain that they were the ones facing a backlash from the consumers on the ground and were left to fend for themselves.

“TRAI in its statement has repeatedly claimed that the cable bill will come down because of migrating to a la carte. But the on-ground situation is different: the cable bills even for a fraction of the number of channels they used to get earlier, have shot up exponentially. Consumers are not happy. Verbal duels and even fisticuffs have become routine,” said Anand Raj, a cable operator in North Bengaluru.

Cable operator associations across the country have been opposing migration to the a la carte model on the grounds that contrary to claims by TRAI, it essentially meant paying more for less number of channels.

However, TRAI has overruled opposition and recently ordered for the migration across the country.

Mr. Raju said the association will file a suit against TRAI in the Karnataka High Court and associations in other States were also following suit.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 10:33:06 AM |

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