Cable TV

Subscribers blame operators for channel packages

KOLKATA: This year, not only has the economic recession dampened Kolkata’s festive fervour, customers are now complaining about the inability to view their favourite television channels despite opting for them.

However, before jumping to any conclusions about multi system operators (MSOs) having missed their deadline for offering channel packages, the MSOs maintain they’ve already done the needful. So why then are subscribers cribbing?

Apparently, a majority of them have filled out customer request forms (CRFs) opting for a fresh bouquet of channels and yet, nothing has changed for them.

Says Shyamal Sen, a resident of south Kolkata: “I do have a cable connection with a package of Rs 280+Rs 50 (tax), which amounts to Rs 330 per month ... but all these packages are only fooling people. I assume my neighbour has taken the Rs 180 package and still enjoys all the channels.”

Rupa Das from Behala is happy that a couple of channels she had struck off from the list last month have gone off air but is yet to receive her new package.

On their part, MSOs refuse to take the blame for the plight of subscribers.

Kolkata has 30 lakh cable homes and nine MSOs, of which, SitiCable controls a substantial share of cable users. The company claims it has introduced packages on time. “We have offered the package and achieved 100 per cent CRF. Around 50,000 subscribers did not submit their forms. It seems those households which have more than one set-top box have not opted for a package for their second one or they are not residing in Kolkata,” says Siticable Kolkata director Suresh Sethia.

A Hathway Cable and Datacom official too maintains the company has offered channel packages to all its customers and hasn’t received any such complaints so far.

While Cable Operators Digitalisation Committee Kolkata Association of Cable Operators convener Swapan Chowdhury, reasons that the process could have been delayed with the onset of Durga Puja. According to him, MSOs and operators might take another month to start beaming channel packages. “A lot of back-end technical work still remains before new packages can be beamed,” he argues.

Similarly, an official from another MSO says since the MSO hasn’t yet collected CRFs from its customers, it plans to beam packages in phases after Durga Puja. “The LCOs will not work this week. Even if I want to offer packages, nothing can be done. Customers have to understand this,” he says.

Manthan director Sudip Ghosh says customers are going in for need-based packages currently.

Meanwhile, Namit Dave, a media analyst, is rather candid about the whole thing. He reasons that with the delay in the DAS process, it was apparent that channel packages would not be in place starting 1 October. “Even now in Kolkata, 100 per cent DAS has not been achieved in reality. So there is no question of channel offer,” he shoots.

If sources are to be believed, nearly 60 per cent of CRFs have been collected in Kolkata. However, festivities have put a spanner in the works and it is likely that MSOs and operators will take some more weeks before they start beaming the channel packages.

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