Monday, 1 July 2013

Consumers are still reluctant to comply by government orders

Last month saw a great tragedy strike the Uttrakhand Hills where thousands died or went missing. Road communications have been badly hit and some of the villages have been completely washed out. We at Cable Quest express our deep sympathies with all who suffered and pray for peace to the departed souls.
This month’s issue focuses on Conditional Address System, SMS and Billing. We have procured very useful information for our readers on the subject from many renowned companies. All Digital networks must have these systems as per the regulations. We have tried to provide information that would particularly prove very beneficial to independent MSOs and cable operators.

After 8 months of completion of Phase-I, only about 50% of subscriber forms have been received by MSOs in spite of TRAI issuing notices to MSOs, LCOs and now the subscribers, threatening to cancel their licenses and disconnect services. Criminal proceedings have been initiated by TRAI against a dozen LCOs in Delhi, for not submitting the consumer information to their respective MSOs.
This is the result of forcing a technology on consumers without making them adequately aware. Consumers who are used to the analogue system for so many years cannot accept a change so quickly. This is only the beginning, we may see more of chaos in Phase-II cities, and under such circumstances it will really be difficult for digitization to commence in Phase-III and IV where majority of people are lower middle class and poor. In Kolkata, consumers and LCOs have come out in the streets against the unfriendly packaging of channels for digital cable.  Since courts will start functioning after the summer holidays this month, we may also see many court cases being pursued against the government policies including the one in Supreme Court.
Already, keeping up with the directions of TDSAT, TRAI is in the process of amending the Tariff Order and interconnection regulations for addressable systems. When amended regulations are introduced, they will surely cause more confusion because TRAI’s emphasis is on all consumers to pay for pay channels, where as consumers don’t even understand the system of pay channel distribution. Government is also worried because of the weakening of our economy and is making all efforts to induct more FDI by planning to raise the caps in many sectors. I wonder how this will help the cable TV industry because the people who are demanding the FDI have nothing to do with last mile cable networks who need these investments most. Our way of implementing digitalization has not created a congenial environment for large investments. Most of the investments done earlier have gone waste due to wrong policies of the Government. This way It may take many years for the industry to become stable to invite more investments.
Due to weakening of Rupee Industry people have been avoiding foreign trips. This year Broadcast Asia, the largest industry expo in the Asian region also saw less of Indian community. However, many who went there appreciated the new technologies exhibited there. Technologies that occupied most of the exhibition area included 4K broadcast, OTT and multiplatform distribution, both in production and distribution.

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma


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