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TRAI to fine cable operators missing digitization

All the cable operators who are dragging their heels on implementing digitization need to watch out as the regulator has suggested imposing lakhs, or even crores of rupees as fines for delays in billing and other requirements.

“In the cases where any non-compliance of the regulations 15(1) or 15(5) is observed by the Authority, a financial disincentive of not exceeding Rs. 20/- per subscriber will be levied on the MSO and/or its linked local cable operator for first contravention. If the MSO and/or its linked local cable operator contravene the said regulations second time (or any more times) for the same subscriber then a financial disincentive of not exceeding Rs. 50/- per subscriber will be levied on the MSO and/or its linked local cable operator for each subsequent contravention,” the TRAI said in a note.

The section 14 and 15 refer to the offering of the prepaid options for cable payment through the online route and to the delivery of bills to subscribers.

“The Authority has noted that the said prescribed norms are not being complied with by the MSOs and their linked local cable operators. Such non-compliance has resulted in numerous consumer grievances. In the absence of a bill, a consumer remains unaware about the correctness of the payment being made by him for the availed cable TV services,” it said.

However, the key reason for insisting on online payment and bill generation to enable the government to tax the cable companies, in addition to making it easier for subscribers to pick and choose their services.

“As the delivery of bills and receipts is not being done in a proper manner by the concerned cable operators as laid down in the QoS regulations, the information regarding actual subscription vis-a-vis the payment details are not being entered into the subscriber management system of the MSOs. Consequently, the deals and the financial transactions amongst the operators are not being carried out based on transparent parameters. This has proved to be a major road block in the evolution of transparent business practices in the sector and resulted in disputes amongst the MSOs and their linked local cable operators,” it clarified.

“As the delivery of bills and receipts is not being done in a proper manner by the concerned cable operators as laid down in the QoS regulations, the information regarding actual subscription vis-a-vis the payment details are not being entered into the subscriber management system of the MSOs. Consequently, the deals and the financial transactions monster the operators are not being carried out based on transparent parameters. This has proved to be a major road block in the evolution of transparent business practices in the sector and resulted in disputes amongst the MSOs and their linked local cable operators.”

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