As it is well known now that TRAI has unveiled a new tariff order and regulatory regime for the broadcast and cable sector to facilitate consumers to opt for channels they wish to watch and pay only for them. TRAI had made it clear that every channel should be offered on a-la-carte basis, with a transparent display of rates on electronic program guide. TRAI also clarified that DTH and Cable operators can’t force consumers to go in for only predefined packages or bouquets.
Despite it, over the last few weeks TRAI has pulled up a number of operators, both Cable TV and DTH service providers, for violation of rules, as it took action on consumer complaints pertaining to specific offerings, grievance redressal helpline services and arbitrary migration of subscribers with valid long-term packs to new plans. In some of the cases, TRAI noted that the players were forcing channels and package schemes to the consumers and subscribers were not able to exercise their choice. Most recently, TRAI rapped DTH operators Tata Sky, Dish TV, Sun Direct TV and Cable operator Independent TV, for failing to abide by the rules, particularly pertaining to the migration of subscribers who had long-term packs.
To ensure that Cable TV and DTH companies are complying with its new regulatory norms, TRAI has roped in state-owned Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL) for conducting audits. BECIL was established on 24th March 1995. It provides project consultancy services and turnkey solutions encompassing the entire gamut of radio and television broadcast engineering i.e. content production facilities, terrestrial transmission facilities, satellite and cable broadcasting facilities in India and abroad. It also provides associated services like building design and construction related to broadcasting, human resource related activities like training and providing man power. BECIL also undertakes supply of specialized communication, monitoring, security and surveillance systems to defense, police and para-military departments.
TRAI, which had earlier warned of action against operators found to be flouting the new tariff order and regulatory regime, said that audits in this regard will begin soon. The audit planned by TRAI will look at multiple aspects including subscriber management system and billing and also determine whether consumers are indeed getting their choice of channels, be it bouquets or a-la-carte.
Last month TRAI Chairman RS Sharma had said that the TRAI planned to initiate ‘audit’ of subscriber management and other IT systems of errant operators. He had also said that the consumer choice and consumer interest were ‘non-negotiable’ and ‘can’t be compromised’ and that companies not adhering to rules would have to face the consequences.