Tamil Nadu

Coronavirus: Cable operators unsure of collecting rent during lockdown, want passes to be issued to address breakdown issues

Road near Zam Bazaar market is closed for traffic at Triplicane in Chennai.

Road near Zam Bazaar market is closed for traffic at Triplicane in Chennai.   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

With the 21-day lockdown in place in the country in a bid to flatten the curve of the spread of COVID-19, cable operators are unsure of how to collect the monthly cable bills from their customers and also want the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and TRAI to direct broadcasters to make pay channels as Free to Air for the next two months.

D.G.V.P. Sekar, president of the Federation of Cable TV Association of Tamil Nadu, told The Hindu that local cable operators might find it difficult to collect their monthly rent from customers in view of the lockdown and the restrictions imposed on movement on people.

“Many of us will feel the heat. Recovery of monthly subscription from our customers might happen only after two to three months which will make life difficult for a lage number of operators. We cannot go out to address any breakdowns or line cuts or service issues as people have been advised to not allow visitors as well. Apart from this, people have been mandated to work from home, which means that if they face any issues in cable service or their Internet which a large number of cable operators provide, we are unable to attend to them, as we have not been given passes,” Mr. Sekar said.

Mr. Sekar has also written to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K. Shanmugam seeking a direction to issue staff of cable tv operators with passes so that they will be able to address any issues faced by their subscribers during the lockdown.

In the letter, he said that many of the cable operators also provide internet services through various service providers and since internet has been notified as an essential service, he sought a direction to be issued to district collectors to provide them with passes. “The government is also in the cable TV business. They need to address our concerns,” he told The Hindu.

P. Sakilan, who runs TCCL, too said they were unsure of collecting the subscription from their customers. “Collecting rent is the biggest problem. We don’t know how to manage this situation as from April 1st week we have to collect rent. We are now thinking of collecting it via online mode,” he said.

Mr. Sakilan said if broadcasters ask for payments in this situation, many MSO’s will find it hard. “Broadcasters will ask for payments and we are automatically billed,” he said and said MIB and TRAI should immediately issue guidelines for encryption-free service for two months.

Mr. Sekar has also written to MIB and TRAI seeking a direction to broadcasters to provide pay channels free of cost till the outbreak subsides, taking into consideration the welfare of cable TV operators and consumers.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 4:11:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/coronavirus-cable-operators-unsure-of-collecting-rent-during-lockdown-want-passes-to-be-issued-to-address-breakdown-issues/article31216509.ece

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