TDSAT admits petition by LCOs wanting right of billing under DAS

NEW DELHI: Cable operators in the state of Maharashtra have got a head start regarding the billing system for cable television under DAS that MSOs are planning to put into effect. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has accepted its petition and the case filed by the Nasik District Cable Operators Association of Maharashtra will come up for hearing on 22 November.

Counsel Vikram Singh submitted that while the services were being provided by the local cable operators, the billing was meant to be done by the multi-system operators under the Standards of Quality of Service (Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems) Regulations 2012 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

TRAI counsel Saket Singh sought to argue that LCOs cannot approach TDSAT as they are not service providers. However, the Bench of Member Kuldip Singh admitted the case for hearing and asked TRAI to file its counter-affidavit.

It has also been stated in the petition that cable TV operations cannot be equated with telecom services since there was only one service provider for mobiles while there were the MSOs and the LCOs in television.

Regulation 14 of the Regulations issued on 14 May 2012 says ‘Every multi-system operator shall offer cable TV services on both pre-paid and post-paid payment options to the subscriber and shall be responsible for generation of bills for the subscribers.’

Regulation 15 says ‘Every multi-system operator either directly or through its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, shall give to every subscriber the bill for charges due and payable by such subscriber for each month or for such other period as agreed between the parties, for which such charges become payable by the subscriber.

The LMOs in Maharashtra have been fighting against the alleged dominance shown by MSOs by imposing restrictions on them as well as dictating terms relating to billing practice. A cable TV blackout was also held in various parts of the state from 6pm to 9pm on 2 October as a sign of protest.

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