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Trai issues regulations on quality of cable TV service

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NEW DELHI: Cable TV consumers are in for a pleasant surprise as cable operators will now be put under stringent monitoring relating to quality of service.

India's broadcast regulator today issued detailed regulations prescribing standards of quality of service to be observed by the cable operators and multi system operators in CAS notified areas of Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said the regulations would come into effect from 1 October, 2006.

The regulations have been drawn keeping in view the facts that the industry would be subject to prescription of quality of service standards for the first time and, therefore, would need time to adjust on various quality of service aspects.

The issues addressed in the regulations broadly cover the following areas:

(i) Connection, disconnection, transfer and shifting of cable services
(ii) Complaint handling and redressal in respect of cable services
(iii) Billing Procedure and billing related complaints
(iv) Set-top box related issues and complaints
(v) Positioning of channels / taking the channel off air

A snapshot of the major features of these regulations categorized under the above-mentioned broad areas are indicated below:

Application for connection/disconnection/transfer/shifting
* Application for pay channel or request for basic service tier to be responded within five working days.
* Cable Service connection/reconnection to be provided within 2 working days on completion of all formalities by the subscribers.
Complaint handling and redressal
*Multi System Operator/Cable Operator to maintain customer service center/help desk center for 24 hours, 7 days a week including facility for automatic recording of complaints.
*All complaints received in the day to be attended/responded within eight hours.

Billing related issues
* Billing to be done normally on monthly basis and entries to be itemized.
*Subscribers required to ensure prompt payment of bills. Deterrents to discourage delayed payments
*Redressal of complaints on billing within 7 days from the date of notice.

Set Top Box (STB) related issues
* MSO/Cable Operator to repair or replace within 24 hours of receipt of complaint of malfunctioning of set top box and refund of security deposit within seven days of return of set top box.

*Rebate for delay in activation/reactivation of set top box beyond two working days @ Rs 15 per day for the first 5 days and @ Rs 10 per day for the subsequent period

Positioning of channels/Taking the channel off air
*No channel to be taken off the air, except for circumstances beyond the control of the operator, without prior notice of three weeks.

The High Court of Delhi on 20 July 2006 had directed implementation of CAS in the three metros of Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi by 31 December 2006.

One of the areas identified in the implementation of CAS was prescription of quality of service standards by Trai, which has been now done after consultations with the industry stakeholders.

A full text of the regulation along with the explanatory memorandum is available on Trai's website, www.trai.gov.in.

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