TRAI gets tough on MSOs on DAS customer forms

MUMBAI: That TRAI boss Rahul Khullar means business; that he does not mince any words; that he can make you squirm when he wants to is something all - who have been at the receiving end at one time or the other - know. But the heads of India‘s leading MSOs got another taste of that just yesterday, if sources are to be believed.

Khullar had summoned the heads of Siti Cable, Incable, Hathway, DEN and Digicable to the TRAI headquarter in Delhi. Four of them landed up; Digicable‘s Jagjit Singh Kohli requested to be excused. Hathway‘s Jagdeesh Kumar; Incable‘s Ravi Mansukhani; Siticable‘s Wadhwa and Anil Malhotra, and DEN‘s SN Sharma Sameer and Manchanda landed up in his chamber. They had earlier been pulled up similarly in end-March and had been warned that strict action against them would be taken under the TRAI act.

But this time it seemed as if Khullar had apparently reached the end of his patience. He did not let them get a word in - even edgewise.

"I have only 10-15 minutes to talk to you," he thundered. "Where is the cable TV customer data that I have been demanding from you? It‘s been months since I should have got it; your deadline has long past. Now let me make it very clear to you: I will prosecute each one of you if I don‘t get it."

Khullar went on to blast the MSOs further and set the deadline for collection of the DAS Phase I customer forms for Mumbai and Delhi. "You have till 30 June to submit those forms; failing which you can be sure you will be prosecuted under the required laws. DAS and SMS billing have to move ahead," he urged.

Khullar apparently has also permitted the MSOs to disconnect local cable TV operators and subscribers who are continuing to play truant in the submission of the KYC (know your customer) forms.

The government mandated phase I of cable TV digitisation - with the switch-off of analogue TV signals and installation of set top boxes - which covered the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata was to be completed by 31 October. As part of that process MSOs and cable TV operators were instructed to collect information from their customers and submit the forms to the authorities.

However, sources indicate that MSOs have been rather tardy in the submission of these forms as local cable TV operators have not been complying with their continuous and repeated requests.

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