The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has issued new directions to cable and DTH operators prohibiting them from forcing any channel other than Doordarshan’s on their consumers in the name of ‘base packs’ or ‘basic service tier’, and also set up a call center to deal with such complaints.
The move comes in the wake of hundreds of complaints on social media from consumers that their many DTH and cable operators are simply refusing to allow users to edit or change their base packs.
Instead, consumers have complained, these cable and DTH operators are telling their customers that the ‘base pack’ cannot be changed and that any pack they add will be over and above this.
“The Authority has been informed that some service providers are pushing certain packages, not allowing choice within first 100 channels, providing certain FTA channels irrespective of consumer’s options etc. The Authority has taken a note of such issues and has directed the distribution platform operators to follow the regulation in letter and spirit.
“The consumer choice and paying only for what the consumer wishes to watch, is the power, the new framework gives to subscribers. The subscribers are free to choose Free to Air channels and / or pay channels either on a-lacarte or in the form of bouquet or any combination thereof, even within the first one hundred channels,” it said.
TRAI also gave a phone number and email ID for consumers to register their complaints about any such errant behavior by their cable or DTH operator.
“In case any DTH / Cable Operator is insisting on predefined pack or bouquets without providing real choices, subscribers may report the same at TRAI call centre 0120 – 6898689 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org,” it added.
Under the rules, the base pack is supposed to be ‘editable’. In other words, any consumers should be able to log on to the website of the cable or DTH operator and remove any channel from his base pack or add any new channel to it.
Such a swapping of channel will not have any impact on the network charges payable by the consumer to the cable or DTH service.
However, many cable and DTH companies are learnt to have struck deals with certain channel owners to push their channels to consumers in a mandatory fashion, without giving the consumer the choice to turn their channels off.
“Subscribers may note that the new regime empowers them to change their choices whenever they desire. They can add channels for a month or for multiple months whenever a program of their choice is broadcast, thereby providing sufficient flexibility. The subscribers can always request their service provider to modify (add or delete) their selection, even after choosing any package at present. All the subscribers are requested to choose wisely and select those channels that they wish to actually watch,” TRAI added.