TRAI adamant on 23 August deadline in Kolkata, blackout to follow

KOLKATA: With the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) strictly adhering to the 23 August deadline for collection of the customer application forms (CAFs) to help in the implementation of Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems (DAS), 50 per cent of the 30 lakh cable television consumers of the Kolkata metropolis area, might see their television sets going blank.

Till 3:00 pm on Friday, CAFs for around 45 per cent of the cable consumers had been completed, a TRAI official told “By midnight we expect the details of around 50 per cent consumers,” the official added.

However top placed industry sources said that a 14 member team from the TRAI office is likely to come to Kolkata on 26 August (Monday), to decide the fate of the customers who have not yet filled the forms with required details. “This simply proves that MSOs will not be asked to disconnect the TV subscribers,” he said.

It should be noted that the broadcasting regulator had set a deadline of 23 August for cable TV viewers here for filling up the CAFs including choice of channels in the subscriber management system some 40 days ago and failing which services would be stopped, it notified not once but many a times, added the TRAI official. “In fact we had two meetings with MSOs in the last one month,” he further stated.

“In this weekend the MSOs and operators will work harder and try to feed in as much details as they can,” said people associated with the cable industry.

Manthan Broadband Services which has more than 6.5 lakh to seven lakh subscribers has managed to collect around 35 per cent of its CAFs. “We will abide by the law. South Kolkata has done well as compared to North and Central Kolkata in terms of form submission,” said Manthan Broadband Services director Sudip Ghosh.

“However, we expect to receive more such details on coming Saturday and Sunday,” added Ghosh.

While SitiCable which has set up around 11.5 lakh digital addressable systems here has achived 60 per cent collection of forms and is optimistic of reaching the 70 per cent mark by midnight.

SitiCable director (Kolkata) Suresh Sethia informed that the MSOs have received a new format from TRAI and the MSOs have been asked to send the details to the regulator on an everyday basis. “Details like number of boxes switched off, number of boxes reactivated and CAFs received,” should be filed everyday said Sethia.

While a Hathway Cable and Datacom official stated till 3:00 pm, they had received details of more than 57 per cent customers and will be looking at 80 per cent by tonight. “We will act as per the instruction of TRAI,” he said.

TRAI member R K Arnold who was in Kolkata recently said: “We are not going to extend the deadline beyond 23 August. In this if subscriber details including channel preference is not done, his connection is liable to be disconnected.”

Kolkata remains to be the last metro where DAS is yet to be implemented.

Will TRAI ask the MSOs in Kolkata to disconnect the non complying subscribers from 24 August, if the subscriber data is not updated?

If TRAI wanted the MSOs to switch off the TV connections, it would have informed the players by now but it seems that people will get some breathing space for some hours to complete the mandate, said an analyst.

Even if the TV screens go blank, it can be connected in two hours to three hours, after the customers send all the details via their cable operators, concluded a MSO.

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