Television

Consumers may face wrath of cable industry

NEW DELHI: The consumers of cable television in Delhi may have to bear the wrath of the cable industry if indications are anything to go by in the form of increased monthly subscription and also forced to buy the set-top boxes.



Indicating that the cable fraternity would take the fight in the open onto the streets, Zee Telefilms vice chairman Jawahar Goel told indiantelevision.com, "We would have to sit down and decide what can be done and how to counter this political issue."

According to Goel, one of the options before the cable fraternity is to increase the monthly subscription rates in a bid to convey to the consumers and the political establishment, that deferring conditional access system (CAS) in Delhi was not a wise decision.

"We, the cablewallahas, cannot continue to give service at such a cheap price to the consumers. Especially when the pay broadcasters are continuing to charge us money," Goel said, pointing out that if CAS is to be deferred, then the consumer must pay for the service that comes at a subsidised rate to him at present.

The deferment of CAS in Delhi has put a question mark on its rollout in other metros too as the government would not be in a moral position to ask other cities to implement addressability when the capital city has been spared of it.

Goel said that the now that government has deserted it, the cable fraternity needs to unite and work together to switch over from an analogue system to a digital one. "If need be, we’d sell set-top boxes to the consumer or given him just the free to air channels," he explained.

Isn’t the cable industry worried about a consumer backlash? At present no. Because Goel's sentiments were echoed by the likes of National Cable & Telecom Association president Vickky Chowdhry, Cable Operators Federation of India chief Roop Sharma.

"Khurana should be taught a lesson and first of all the cable service to his residence should be snapped. Then he’ll realise our plight," Chowdhry angrily said, adding that consumers would have to face the brunt of ire against Khurana.

"If they cannot implement it in Delhi, how will they insist on its rollout elsewhere? CAS is finished," lamented a cable operator in Delhi.

What does the government have to say on these likely turn of events? A seemingly trapped information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "We would talk to cable operators not to harass the consumers unnecessarily."

But would an industry on the warpath --- because of financial implication of the deferment too --- listen to such platitudes from the government, which has earned the nickname of a `rollback government’ because of going back on policy decisions on many counts in various sectors?

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