Consumer helpline finds cable TV services inadequate

By Indo Asian News Service | Wednesday, September 06, 2006 | 2:32:41 PM IST (+05:30 GMT) Comment 0 Comment

New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS) Services provided by cable TV broadcasters and operators have been found to be dissatisfactory by the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), which has written to the consumer affairs ministry stating that people are feeling 'most harassed'.

New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS) Services provided by cable TV broadcasters and operators have been found to be dissatisfactory by the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), which has written to the consumer affairs ministry stating that people are feeling 'most harassed'.

'We have informed the consumer affairs ministry about the poor service provided by the sector. Of all the complaints received, the cable TV sector constitutes over 10 percent of them,' said S.K. Virmani, IT and Telecom counsellor of NCH.

In their analysis report to the ministry, NCH said that though there are over 60 million cable TV households in the country, the consumer is left to feel most harassed in the absence of any single agency to look after consumer concerns.

The problems being reported from cable users include overcharging, poor transmission quality, shifting of channels and uninformed blackouts among others and in many cases consumers are forced to view the bouquet of channels provided by the cable operators.

NCH, a sponsored project of the union consumer affairs ministry, has registered a total of 13,860 complaints during April-July 2006 as against 10,624 complaints during the same period last year - a growth of over 30 percent.

'Despite tremendous growth of the cable industry, there is no mechanism or redressal of complaints which is mainly being attributed to the unregulated growth of cable operators. After analysing the complaints, we feel that a proper regulatory mechanism must be put in place before the conditional access system (CAS) comes into effect,' NCH chief Sri Ram Khanna told IANS Wednesday.

Khanna added that the NCH wants a complete ban on advertisement in pay channels, immediate implementation of CAS in the notified areas to be followed by other areas, an end to the bouquet pricing, a maximum of Re.1 per channel per month and an assurance not to increase monthly rentals in non-CAS areas.

NCH said that, as per a Delhi High Court order, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had sought details of the proposed channel pricing from all the broadcasters before Aug 15, but many are yet to comply.

Authorities also said the price band should be kept low when CAS comes into effect.

'In Pakistan people pay Re.1 per month for watching channels like Sony or Star, why should Indian consumers pay more? Indian consumers want the same rate if not less because of higher viewership,' said Khanna.

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