Cable TV

LMOs demand Star channels on a la carte, or face switch off, non-payment of monthly charges

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MUMBAI: The multi system operators (MSOs) and broadcaster Star India could have moved into the no-war zone, after Star declared that it would give its channels only on the basis of Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO). While this led to MSOs going ahead and declaring that the network’s channels will now be given to consumers only on a la carte, the incentives given by Star, melted most.  Unhappy now are the last mile owners (LMOs), who fear losing their subscribers.

Leading the way is Maharashtra Cable Operators Federation (MCOF) president Arvind Prabhoo, who today called for a meeting, which was attended by close to 400-500 LMOs. The agenda of the meeting was simple: Getting Star channels only on a la carte.

“While the MSOs had earlier said that the Star channels will be available on a la carte, suddenly everyone is switching on the Star channels and including it in the existing packs,” informs Prabhoo.

The LMOs in the meeting took two resolutions. “The first one is that we will meet at least two MSOs tomorrow (25 November) and tell them that they should remove the Star channels from the packages and sell it only on a la carte,” he says.

MCOF will meet InCable and Hathway Cable and Datacom first and then move on to meeting Siti Cable and Den Networks. “We don’t want any of the Star channels in any of the packs. We will go to our customers and ask them for the channels they want to watch and bill them only for those as per the published a la carte rate,” he adds.

The LMOs will first request the MSOs to put the channels on a la carte, on immediate basis. “But if this doesn’t happen, we will start switching off the STBs on our own and also will not pay the MSOs the monthly charges,” informs Prabhoo, who says whatever they are demanding is as per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regulation.

The second resolution passed is on the interconnect agreement which was drafted months ago by MCOF as per the suggestion given to TRAI and also accepted by both InCable and Hathway. “Though they had agreed to the interconnect agreement drafted, they have still have not signed it. We are going to ask them to sign it or else have decided not to pay them the monthly charges,” he says.

According to Prabhoo, the move has been taken as the LMOs are losing their subscribers to the direct to home (DTH) players. “It is getting difficult to manage the business,” concludes Prabhoo.

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