Consumer society frowns upon agitating Mumbai cable ops

The faceoff between ESPN-Star Sports and Mumbai's cable TV trade continues as cable operators are adamant that they will continue to hold their ground and are preparing a delegation to visit information and broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi.

Now, it is the turn of the The Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) to throw its hat into the ring. It has issued a press release saying that it "has received many complaints from television viewers against cable operators, where the cable operators are depriving millions of cricket lovers in Mumbai of the television coverage of triangular series being played between India, Pakistan and Australia."

The CGSI says it wholly condemns the cable operators agitation and has decided to initiate immediate legal action against the cable operators and their associations. "We believe this is totally unfair to hold the consumers to ransom where hundreds of thousands of sports enthusiasts are missing out on the exciting cricket series." "The cable operators charge RS 100 - 150 from the consumers and they do not have any legal right to block out the channels. By doing so they are in the breach of their obligations to the consumers. We plan to initiate action against the operators under the Consumer Protection Act."

CGSI has also decided to focus on protecting consumer rights against cable operators in the following key areas. It also plans to educate consumers about their rights against the cable operators, and also take up the issues with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Government and appropriate authorities where adequate regulation should safeguard consumers 'interests.'

The CGSI points out to the following deficiencies:

1) Most of the cable operators do not specify which channels they will show and on what frequency band. A consumer has no recourse to file a complaint at any appropriate forum. The operators also do not give a receipt of monthly subscriptions they receive from consumers.

2) Cable operators have formed service monopolies in all areas. Today in most areas the consumers do not have a choice to get the service from any other cable operator. The CGSI intends to take up the matter with MRPTC as this monopolistic practice violates the basic rights of the consumer.

3) Many cable networks are passing on a very poor quality picture and sound to their consumers. There is absolutely no feedback, no action, no technical up-gradation despite making several complaints to cable operators.

4) Adult movies along with offensive material is regularly shown on the cable operators' channels. This practice is illegal, and is also affecting young minds, and disturbing the social fabric of our culture and traditions.

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