Regulators

Consumer organisation demands regulatory authority for cable industry

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Demand for a regulatory authority and implementation of the CAS ranked high on the agenda of the seminar on 'Cable TV : New Age Dictatorship' held in Mumbai on Monday.

Organised by the Consumer Action Network (CAN), an organisation comprising citizens concerned about consumer welfare, the seminar aimed to highlight issues currently faced by cable TV viewers in India and to bring consumers together on a common platform. Speakers included former minister Pramod Navalkar, former sheriff Nana Chudasama, cable op Johnwin George and CAN national president Ahmed Abdi.

Topics discussed ranged from lack of choice for viewers, arbitary rate hikes, absence of any regulatory authority in India unlike other countries and lack of any government initiative. While Chudasama and George stressed the need for a regulatory authority in the broadcasting and cable industry, Navalkar called upon the consumers to unite and urge the government to take up cudgels on their behalf.

Even as the cabinet committee pondered the issue in New Delhi the same day, CAN president Abdi urged the government for implementation of the Task Force Report recommending the introduction of Conditional Access Systems (CAS). He lamented the present state of consumer who has neither choice in selection of channels nor in deciding the rates and stressed that it was in the interests of the broadcasters to delay the introduction of CAS, since they would no longer be able to bundle their weak channels with the more popular channels.

George supported the demand for broadcasters to freeze the fees and also supported the call for a regulatory authority. Several consumer associations including Consumer Guidance Society of India, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat and AGNI participated in the discussions. CAN proposes to record the findings and suggestions of the seminar and forward to the Information and Broadcasting industry.

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