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MCOF raises questions on Hathway, Den pushing existing STBs under Jio brand

It has also flagged the issue of unethical signal sharing by other MSOs

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KOLKATA: Maharashtra Cable Operators’ Foundation (MCOF) has flagged off several unethical practices in the television distribution segment. In a letter written to the Telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI), it has alleged that some multi system operators (MSOs) are violating rules and taking the unethical route of business. 

MCOF has expressed concern about Den Networks and Hathway for imposing replacement of existing STBs by STBs under Jio brand in the last six months. The federation has claimed that the two MSOs have not replaced the expired standard interconnection agreement (SIA) with the model interconnection agreement (MIA) without offering any explanation for the rebranding.

“The LCOs who resist the imposition are made to toe the line by disabling their access to the Prepaid Portal resulting in service interruptions ton the subscribers. In addition to the arm-twisting, the MSOs have lined up numerous dummy operators to replace the existing LCOs who usurp their business and assets,” the letter added.

MCOF stated that Jio is not a registered MSO nor has it signed interconnection agreement (ICA) with LCOs. Moreover, Hathway and DEN continued to rely upon expired SIA overlooking repeated requests to adopt MIA. 

It has also claimed that BRDS provides signal feed to its network in Kolhapur and connected areas but deploys InCable STBs. InCable has been alleged of providing feed to Sampark Network (Powai Mumbai and Bhiwandi Area) through STBs that the latter has deployed. 

“We fail to understand as to how auditors have overlooked the mismatch between CAS, STB inventory and conflicting branding, head-ends can be used as pass-through pipes for signals from another MSO, random off-site checks by broadcasters through watermarking have not detected the malpractices,” it added.

Against this context, MCOF has asked copies of ICA between Jio and Broadcasters and status of MSO License to Den and Hathway. It has also called for clarification on whether a mere share purchase deal allows the buyers to change brands and automatically subrogate the company whose shares it buys. 

It has also requested the industry watchdog to share the steps it is taking to prevail on MSO to sign up fresh ICA with LCOs by mutual consensus rather than arm-twisting via Prepaid Portal Access denial. MCOF has also asked directions for the course of actions that LCOs should take to safeguard against likely disabling of STBs that are drawing signals from third party head-end or suspension of feed sharing between MSOs. 

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