Stringent guidelines for cable operators framed

Staff Reporter

Complaints received will have to be attended within 48 hours

Those wanting to return the set-top-box will get refund of their security within seven daysTRAI has ensured that subscribers live up to their duties by paying bills promptly

NEW DELHI: There is good news for those tired of their local cable operator in South Delhi. With the power equation all set to change for viewers with Conditional Access System being rolled out this December 31, the viewer will become `king'.

And while people are deciding whether to eliminate him all together with direct-to-home (DTH), it is important for them to make an informed choice.

Framing stringent guidelines for cable operators, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has given consumers the control of their remote. From being able to choose their channels to being ensured quality of service, constant calls to the cable operators begging them to fix the problem are long over. It will be easier to register complaints, as cable operators will have to make a record of these complaints.

Apart from setting up a mechanism to handle complaints, the cable operator has also been given a deadline in which to handle all complaints. Those waiting anxiously for the Cricket World Cup next year can be assured that their cable operator will not let them down.

Under the guidelines, the cable operator will have to try and take steps like providing back-up power supply to ensure that subscribes don't lose picture. Complaints received will have to be attended within 48 hours.

"Earlier in 2003, there was no control over the quality of service. People didn't know what happened if they bought the set-top-box and it didn't work. Now the consumer is empowered,'' said a TRAI official.

Spelling good news for women living alone, all cable operators will have to ensure that their workers carry proper identification along with a photograph.

Not singling out the cable operators alone, TRAI has ensured that subscribers live up to their duties. All bills will have to be paid promptly. Those wanting to return the set-top-box will get refund of their security within seven days.

"There is a nodal officer that people can turn to in case they have a complaint. Otherwise there is the consumer court,'' said a TRAI official.

While consumer courts with their endless cases might not be an option most people would like to choose, but as an official pointed out, it is better than nothing.

"If say a whole colony has a complaint, then they can write to TRAI and we can look into it,'' asserted an official.

However, there are those who might be left out of the paradise of cable television with the implementation of CAS. With the set-top-box requiring an initial investment of at least Rs. 250 even on the lowest rental scheme, it might be an end to `saas-bahu' sagas for lower income groups living in JJ colonies.

"My maid has a right to watch television too. I am worried that CAS will eliminate her entertainment totally as it needs an initially investment and even Rs. 250 is a big amount for people like her,'' asserted Shalini Goenka living in Press Enclave.

However, those wishing to eliminate the local cable operator not for monetary reasons, might have the satisfaction of more channels, but will have to deal with a customer care executive to get their problems sorted out.

"I wanted to take the DTH option. But at the moment DTH is not under any authority, so who will I turn too?' asked Kavita Vasudeva, a resident who lives in Vasant Vihar.

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