Following the rising complaints from consumers regarding the termination of their long term plans, TRAI had served notice to major DTH operators directing them to honour the subscriptions.
TV subscribers’ hopes to get justice for their long term plans seem to be dashed as the Delhi High Court has put a stay on TRAI’s directive to service providers asking them to honour the longer subscriptions. Following the rising complaints from consumers regarding the termination of their long term plans, TRAI had served notice to major DTH operators directing them to honour the subscriptions of the users. However, one of the largest service providers in India — Tata Sky — dragged TRAI to the court against the directive and the Delhi High Court has put a stay on the TRAI order. Now, the matter will come up for hearing on 11 July.
High Court says
In a notice dated 15 May 2019, the Delhi High Court said that the TRAI’s notice created two-sets of subscribers and the implementation of TRAI’s notice would have financial repercussions on the petitioners (DTH providers). The Delhi High Court then put a stay on TRAI’s notice dated 23 January 2019 and on TRAI’s further directive of 1 May 2019.
TRAI versus Dish providers
Earlier in February 2019, TRAI had rolled out its ambitious plan for Cable and DTH TV, giving power to the consumers to choose and pay for the channels that they wish to watch. However, the ineffective implementation of the new regime and complicated to mechanism to switch to new rules rendered many TV viewers helpless and they could not or did not switch to the new plan. TRAI then asked the service providers to migrate subscribers to best-fit-plan based on their channel choices and language preferences.
However, many subscribers found themselves cheated when they realised that even after subscribing to long-term plans (half yearly or year-long subscriptions), they were still prompted by the DTH providers to pay for some channels. After consumers demanded justice from TRAI, TRAI served notice to many major dish providers including Tata Sky, Hathway and Sun Direct and other regional players.
TRAI’s new rules for DTH, Cable TV became effective on 1 February 2019. It allows users to choose their channels from a-la-carte, pre-curated bouquet channels, and free-to-air channels. The base price under the new regime is capped at Rs 154, paying which, the customers can watch 100 channels of their own choice.