Consumer Action Network (CAN) president Ahmad M Abdi has written
a letter to the minister urging him to take necessary steps to protect
the interest of consumers under the conditional access system (CAS)
regime. CAN is a consumer activist organisation comprising of lawyers
registered under the Society Registration Act, 1860.
According to the letter, a copy of which is with the indiantelevision.com
team, the following issues need to be sorted out:
* The ministry must constitute a regulatory authority. The consumer
has got no resource to file complaints to grievances in the absence
of one. Till the conversions commission becomes a reality, an adhoc
regulatory authority should be in place where multifarious issues
relating to the industry can be sorted out.
* The ministry must look into the fact that the broadcasters are
bundling their pay channels as bouquets and pressuring the consumer
to subscribe to the entire bouquet by pricing the popular individual
higher. This practice adopted by the broadcasters is prima facie
unfair, unreasonable and exploitative in nature and it is duty of
the government to regulate and check such types of practices in
* The bouquet of "free-to-air" (FTA) channels should
include the right mix of entertainment, news, sports, music and
children's programmes which can accessed by the consumer who pays
the FTA bouquet price of Rs 72 per month.
* The I&B ministry must urge the finance ministry to exempt
cable TV service of FTA bouquet from the service tax net. The reason
being that cable TV is the basic source of information and entertainment
to the common masses as well as the economically weaker section
of the society.
* The state governments must yield to the request from consumer
bodies that the FTA cable TV service should become exempt from the
purview of entertainment tax.
* The ministry must develop a mechanism to counter the probable
exploitation of the consumers by the cable operators or multi-system
operators (MSOs). There are fears that the cable trade could pressure
consumers to subscribers to pay channels along with FTA channels
- refusing to provide FTA channels alone. It must be mandatory to
provide cable TV service as per demand rather than force.
Consumer body PIL seeks
to plug cable TV rate hike before July 2003