I&B turns down Trai proposal on monitoring cable service quality

Written by Soma Das | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 31 2008, 06:56am hrs
The information and broadcasting ministry (I&B) has turned down the Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indias (Trai) proposal to enlarge the scope of district and state-level content monitoring committee to include quality of cable service issues citing technical incompetence of these bodies. This is despite the ministryshowing keen interest in the past in devising a mechanism to maintainquality of cable services in 80 million households in non-CAS areas.

Monitoring of Trai regulations would also require some technical professionals having knowledge in broadcasting quality fields, Therefore, even if, the scope of the district monitoring committee were to be enlarged to receive complaints as suggested by you (Trai), there is nothing which an authorised officer or the committee can do by way of penalising a cable operator if he doesnt redress the grievances or comply with the regulations, I&B said in a letter last week expressing its inability to actualize Trais concept.

The ministry further said that the nodal officers in the process will be flooded with complaints. However, neither the nodal officer nor the district monitoring committee would be able to do much against cable operators even when they are found to be at fault. The ministry has also said that the action that has to be taken by the officers in the content monitoring committee has been provided by law. Action against violation of content code (programme and advertisement code ) has been specified by the Cable Act that authorizes the officer to prohibit the responsible player from broadcasting a channel.

Trai had asked I&B to consider broadening the scope and utilising the content monitoring committees as a forum where people could lodge complaints related to distribution issues along with content related issues. Trai in its letter in October with the above proposal noted that the present forums, district level consumer disputes redressal forum havent proven to be effective and satisfactory in this task.

Trai had suggested that the nodal officer in charge could also receive quality of service related complaints along with content related complaints and refer the same to the cable operator in question. If the service provider continues to violate rules, his case can be referred to higher authorities like district level monitoring committee or licensing authority which is head post office in this case.

The I&B, however has decided to deal with this issue in the purview of cable sector restructuring recommendation of Trai.