Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Flaws in DAS Regulations - Patrick Raju

Karnataka State Cable TV Operators Association apprised the TRAI Chairman of discrepancies  in the DAS regulations and has demanded leveling out these before the next phases are taken up. Patrick Raju, association president explains these flaws.
With our two years experience of Digitisation we have found that DAS has given a great opportunity to the Broadcasters and MSOs to increase their monthly subscription revenue manifold and left the LCOs and Customers in lurch. The very objective of providing Digital Cable TV services to the customers at a competitive lower price and quality service is defeated as the customers are now forced to pay more than what they were paying earlier in the Analogue system. The broadcasters have taken undue advantage of the system and started milking money from the customers/ LCOs through the MSOs.
Tariffs must be fixed by TRAI: When there is regulation on the Telecom sector on tariff, why not the same for Cable TV sector? We therefore urge you to maintain status quo with regard to the pricing of the channels till the time things are streamlined and systemized for Phase 2 as was prevalent during the analogue period  and the same can be implemented when Phase 3 & 4 comes in force.
Consumers are being forced to accept a costly system: Customers are being pushed to a situation where they not only end up paying huge increase in monthly subscription wherein customers were supposed to be given choice of channels and packages but the status today is no different from the Analogue days. 
Poor Quality STBs supplied: DAS was implemented in a hurry without proper planning and because of the last minute rush and unavailability of STBs the MSOs have thrust upon the customers all substandard STB’s. The boxes are going faulty customers are also forced to purchase a replacement STB within a very short time for no fault of theirs. Also the ownership of the STBs has not been given to consumers even them after collecting approx. Rs. 1300/- from the customers.
Revenue Share of LCOs is too low: The Revenue share mandated by TRAI is grossly deflated at 45% for Rs. 100/- on Basic Service Tier package, which is unreasonable. 
The last mile connectivity providing entertainment to people for 365 days and 24 Hours, has been made possible only through our own investments without any government support. Having invested huge amount of money in the distribution system we are being given the minimum revenue share. 
One Sided Interconnect Agreements:The interconnect agreement that we are forced to sign with the MSOs are one sided and have been drafted without considering the facts and concerns of the LCOs. By signing on these agreements we are only put into a situation of pledging our business to the MSOs and being at their mercy for our living.
Right of Way (RoW): Right of way is very important for us to carry signals to the last mile without any hindrance. As per the Digital ACT the RoW (Right of Way) is not at all enforced by the Karnataka Government and instead the Karnataka Government is contemplating to charge exorbitant rates for RoW. TRAI should urge Union government to fix unified charges per kilometer under ROW for all states. All these costs increase the burden on the consumers. 
Growing Monopolies: DAS has created a monopolistic situation as LCOs/ customers do not have the option of changing the service provider even if the service level of the MSO is poor. This is due to non availability of STBs with the competing MSOs. Therefore the customers/ LCOs will have to live with the poor services of the service provider (MSO) forever. The customers get fed up with the service and shift to DTH for no fault of the LCO. LCOs having no other option, has to lose their customer to DTH.
Interoperability of STBs: Interoperable STBs must be introduced immediately as this will solve the issue of customers / LCOs choosing their service provider and has the freedom to move on without any hassle. The LCO also will be able to retain his customers and ensure customer satisfaction.
The contribution of the LCOs in this business and their concerns/ interest have never been considered or heard by TRAI before framing the regulations for DAS. The system is very clearly in favour of the Broadcaster / MSO. TRAI must carefully examine the flaws in the current system and review the regulations.


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