Regulators

TRAI blames MSOs and LCOs for delay in DAS implementation

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come up with certain amendments to the Standards of Quality of Service (digital addressable cable TV systems) (amendment) regulation 2012 (12 of 2012). The regulation has laid down norms for billing of subscribers in digital addressable system (DAS) areas.

It says that even after coming up with the QoS regulation, it kept receiving several complaints from subscribers about not getting proper bill and receipt. Subsequently, the regulator issued a direction in December 2013 directing MSOs to offer prepaid and postpaid payment options, generate bills and issue receipts.

It also made a team consisting of representatives from TRAI and the Broadcast Engineers Consultant India Limited (BECIL) to inspect the head-end and subscriber management system (SMS) of MSOs in Delhi. During the inspection it noticed non-compliance by cable operators. Some cable ops are not offering prepaid option of payment while those who did offer, didn’t give an option of electronic payment.

It again issued a direction on 27 May 2014 to ensure bill delivery either by hand, post or e-mail, within 45 days of the direction to provide online payment option in its SMS, electronic acknowledgement to subscribers on payment. MSOs and LCOs are still delaying implementation of the same.

Since no details are being inserted in the SMS, it is hampering the transparency of financial transactions between MSOs and LCOs thereby affecting smooth implementation of DAS.

TRAI states that ‘in the absence of proper billing and accounting of receipts, there is a distinct possibility of loss of revenue accruable to government’.

Due to all these reasons, the regulator feels that financial disincentives should be levied on non-compliant MSOs and LCOS, similar to how it happens in the telecom field where this action has yielded result.

For non-compliance of issuing bills, a disincentive of not exceeding Rs 20 per subscriber will be levied on the MSO and/or its linked cable operator and for the second time, penalty would be Rs 50. For non-compliance of regulations, Rs 100 will be penalised on each MSO for each contravention. If the MSO and LCO have entered into an agreement, both of them will be penalised for faults while in the case of no deal being signed, only the MSO is liable to pay.

The regulator says that the MSO may offer multiple denomination schemes for recharging, with an expectation that monthly recharge schemes would be one of the options.

Another amendment that has been suggested is to ensure that bills have service tax registration number and entertainment tax registration number of either the MSO or the linked cable operator.

However, before imposing penalties, TRAI will give opportunities to the concerned MSO or LCO to represent its case.

The amendment, when approved, will come into effect 30 days from the date of publication and will be called Standards of Quality of Service  (digital addressable cable TV systems) (amendment) Regulations 2014.

Stakeholders can provide comments before 8 September.

Click here for the press release

Click here for the amendment

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