The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) put the blame of TV entertainment blackout in 45 million homes at the doorsteps of broadcasters and sector regulator TRAI.
The disconnection of signals by leading broadcasters to non-compliant MSOs and cable operators late last week has resulted in “depriving around 4,50,00,000 cable TV families across the country from being able to watch channels transmitted” by the broadcasters”, AIDCF alleged.
Leading broadcasters including Disney Star, Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Sony Pictures Networks India Ltd have stopped providing feed to cable operators who have not signed fresh agreements with increased prices under the New Tariff Order (NTO) issued by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in November 2022.
AIDCF Secretary General Manoj Chhangani said in a statement: “After giving a mere 48 hour notice to the platforms and inspite of the matter being sub-judice in various courts and some of the platforms requesting the broadcasters not to disconnect their channels in light of such proceedings, the broadcasters, Disney-Star, Sony and Zee, have gone ahead and disconnected their channels on the cable TV platforms of the members of AIDCF.”
The MSOs’ body said cable TV platforms and some of its member-companies have not executed the revised RIOs (carriage agreements with broadcasters) as a “mark of protest” against the “unreasonable pricing” by the TV channels.
Indications are that the proposed increase in prices by the broadcasters would be “exorbitant and the increase in prices for the customers could be as high as 60 percent”.
AIDCF said this is despite the fact that in NT01 (year 2019) broadcasters had increased the prices of some of their Channels by 400 percent. On a national level, such a price increase would mean an incremental pay out of Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 crores in a year from the consumers, which would “largely benefit the broadcasters”.
“This steep increase is being fought by AIDCF in court along-with a legal effort to get the channels restored at the prevailing prices for the benefit of the consumers,” the AIDCF statement explained its position.
Apart from the AIDCF members, various independent MSOs have also been disconnected by the broadcasters since most of the large and medium MSOs have refused to sign the RIOs with this increased price.
“Further the sector regulator TRAI, being aware of this disconnection notices, has not taken any steps to ensure that cable TV subscribers are not inconvenienced,” the AIDCF alleged.
AIDCF is India’s apex body for digital MSOs and is the official voice for the Indian digital cable TV industry and interacts with ministries, policy makers, regulators, financial institutions, and technical bodies.
It also provides a platform for discussion and exchange of ideas between these bodies and the service providers, who share a common interest in the development of digital cable TV in the country. It also collaborates with other industry associations such as IBF, CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, etc., with the objective of presenting an industry consensus view to the government on crucial issues relating to the growth and development of the industry.
Meanwhile, according to a PTI report, broadcasters’ apex body IBDF Secretary-General Siddharth Jain in a statement said, “Broadcasters had taken a price increase after four years post the release of new NTO guidelines by TRAI.
“Most DTH and cable operators, whose base adds up to 80 percent of India’s pay TV customers, have already started implementing the new prices and they have had to increase consumer prices by approx five per cent after four years.”
AIDCF members have a combined market share of over 80 per cent.