Television

...And a PIL against cable ops, broadcasters, government

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MUMBAI: BJP member of parliament (MP) Kirit Somaiya is sending out a message that he means business. Apart from announcing on 15 February that he would be filing a criminal case against the TV trade, he said that he, along with other BJP MLAs Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Atul Shah and Sandeep Joshi of Mumbai Cable Grahak Sangh, will file a public interest litigation (PIL) against 12 respondents. These include the Maharashtra government agencies, central government's I&B ministry, broadcasters, MSOs (multi service operators) and cable operators.



While addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters in Mumbai, Somaiya alleged that the governments (state and central) have failed to protect the consumer interest and allowed broadcasters and pay channels to arbitrarily increase pay channel charges. He says that the broadcasters have hiked rates tremendously within the past year.

Somaiya stated that the various departments of the state government had not initiated action against the errant cable operators and MSOs who collected money from the consumers but failed to deposit the same in the government kitty.



"More than 50 per cent of TV sets in Mumbai are capable of showing only 10 channels but the unscrupulous cable operators and MSOs collect the entire amount for 60 plus channels," said Somaiya.



Somaiya added that cable ops and the MSOs didn't provide technology which would enable people to view what they desired. He however added that the conditional access system which is to be implemented by July 2003 under a government order would address these issues.



Somaiya also disclosed that one of the petitions made in this PIL would urge the state government to ensure that the entertainment tax is levied on a pro-rata basis. "Why should black and white TV owners give the same tax as those who have sophisticated TV sets for watching 100 channels," asks Somaiya.



Somaiya has cautioned consumers against paying cable operators in advance for a year's subscription. 



"It is possible that some of these cable operators will not even exist post conditional access system's implementation," says Somaiya.

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