Customer empowered or confused? TRAI chairman backs new DTH, Cable TV rules amid rising complaints

TRAI chairman RS Sharma backs new DTH, Cable TV ruling, but, did the new regime actually work?

Trai asks distributors to ensure a channel appears only at one place, warns action on non-compliance
ग्राहकों की शिकायत के बाद TRAI ने यह निर्देश दिया है.

It has been about a month since new DTH, Cable TV rules were rolled out at the behest of TRAI, apparently giving consumers more power to pay for and subscribe to individual channels. While the initial public reaction to the new system was mostly negative, the problems with the implementation haven’t been resolved yet. RS Sharma, TRAI chairman, clarifies the need and the timing of the new rules and backed the rulings.

“The customer is king. And the king has a good life, but only when he is allowed to rule,” RS Sharma wrote in The Indian Express. Comparing broadcasting and distribution with restaurant and food delivery services, he drives the point home that a consumer should pay for only what she wishes rather than “full meal which is pre-configured with a limited set of options,” and “if you only want two of the seven items in the thali, you should have the option to order those without having to pay more than the thali itself.”

Sharma extends the metaphor to explain Network Capacity Fees levied by the service provider. “When you use a food delivery service to order from restaurants, they usually charge a small fee and deliver the food.” Similarly, service providers were allowed by TRAI to charge NCF (Rs 130 plus 18% GST) which contains the carrier charges for 100 channels; the consumers have unrestricted access to which from individual channels, free-to-air channels or bouquets.

The situation is a win-win for both the subscribers and the distributors, according to Sharma. While consumers have the choice, broadcasters and distributors cannot exploit them any more and for broadcaster and distributors, this works as they get the cut for their services in the form of NCF.

All well and rosy till this point. But, did the new system work?

Twitterati say

The new regime caused chaos. To date, several consumers remain confused with the new pricing system, some even unhappy with it. Top that with the inefficient implementation by DPOs, including big names such as Hathway.

Chaudhary Manish S tweeted–

Kapil Aggarwal‏, another Twitter user said, “Hello, As per the new regulations only rupees 130 and price of channels or packs will be charged. Hathway is charging 20 rupees extra for each sum of 25 channels. Please provide me details whether it is in violation of the new rules. If so please take necessary action.”

Ojas Vasudev Trivedi also said,‏ “the subscribers are made to toil to get help but providers are trying hard to force their tricky packages on our head”.

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First published on: 25-02-2019 at 11:46 IST