Television

Consumer body sides with ESPN Star Sports in spat with cable ops

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The Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) has lambasted cable operators for "holding consumers to ransom" in the ongoing dispute between InCableNet and ESPN Software over increased subscription rates. 

A press release issued today by Anand Patwardhan, chairman, CGSI, says feedback it has received from various consumers groups such as housing societies across the city indicate such bodies have "decided not to pay their monthly dues to the cable operators for depriving them of the exciting ESPN and STAR Sports channels, which is a very good way to protest." 

CGSI has exhorted consumers to initiate action against cable operators as the "operators continue to hold them at ransom for their personal gains. Non-payment of the fees for the month of Rs 24 during which these sports channels are blocked shall not prejudice or affect any action if initiated by the consumers / co-operative societies under the Consumer Protection Act." 

"The cable operators charge Rs 150 - 250 from the consumers and they do not have any legal right to block out the channels. By doing so they are stepping on the rights of their consumers, says CGSI. 

The CGSI suggests the state government should devise a concrete action plan so that such situations could be prevented "because of massive under-declaration of subscribers, the state government is losing revenue worth crores (tens of millions) of rupees." 

The CGSI has taken up the following issues with the ministry of information & broadcasting and all the other appropriate authorities, the release says: 

1. Most of the cable operators do not specify which channels they will show for the monthly subscription fee charged. The operators also do not give a receipt of monthly subscriptions they receive from consumers. 

2. The cable operators have formed monopolies in all areas. The consumers do not have a choice to get the service from any other cable operator in case of any problems. 

3. The cable operators do not specify and maintain the channels shown on prime bands and non-prime bands due to which a consumer has to keep searching for a particular channel and is often deprived of the same. 

4. Adult movies and fashion channel containing offensive material are regularly shown by the cable operators. This practice is illegal, and is also affecting young minds, and disturbing the social fabric of our culture and traditions. 

5. The right to information and education is a fundamental right and should not be left to be tampered as per the whims and fancies of a few monopolistic cable operators for their personal gains.

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