LCOs submit memorandum to Soni, protest against Trai‘s rev share tariff order

NEW DELHI: The last mile cable operators of Delhi have presented a memorandum in the office of Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni protesting against the paltry share of just Rs 45 on the basic tier of Rs 100 for 100 free to air channels fixed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

Earlier, around 200 of these operators organised a rally from Jantar Mantar to Shastri Bhawan to protest against the Trai regulations and the ministry‘s diktat for mandatory digitisation, ignoring the concerns of thousands of small cable operators. They also carried placards and raised slogans outside Shastri Bhavan which houses the I&B ministry.

The memorandum listed various demands and asked for a fair share in the cable TV revenue and extension of deadlines for switching off analogue as the city does not have adequate number of set- top boxes to seed in subscriber homes. Many areas of Delhi do not even have digital signal from any MSO, the LCOs claimed.

The LCOs have also complained that none of the MSOs have declared the pay channel rates or packages, but the government still wants them to force subscribers to buy STBs. Consumers do not know what they will get in the digital regime and at what price. It has become difficult for the LCOs to answer inquiries from consumers.

Some of the cable operators at the spot told that none of the MSO call centers are operational and customers are contacting only the LCOs, whereas the regulations have reduced their status from the last mile owners to collection agents following the Trai regulations.

LCOs say that they were earlier getting Rs 82 per customer in Cas areas but this had been cut down to Rs 45 or less in DAS areas, the balance going to multi-system operators (MSOs). Their livelihood has been endangered by DAS regulations.

The protesting LCOs have shown their inability to implement DAS, performing tasks expected from them by the regulations like operating a call centre for complaint redress, 24x7 maintain the network of last mile to subscribers, attend to complaints within prescribed period, collect subscriptions on behalf of MSOs and pay channels, and collect taxes on behalf of Centre and state governments etc. out of a mere 45 per cent share in the basic service tier and 35 per cent share of pay channels.

They also pointed out that they needed protection as they would be the first to face the anger of consumers when television screens go blank from 1 July.

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