Kolkata heading for cable TV blackout

Operators in blame game as TRAI refuses to extend Aug 23 deadline for submission of SAFs and CAFs

Written by Arshad Ali | Kolkata | Published: August 20, 2013 2:53 am

With August 23 deadline for submission of Subscriber Application Forms (SAF) and Channel Application Form (CAF) by the Multi Service Operators (MSOs) drawing near and the TRAI refusing to extend the deadline,Kolkata is likely to face a cable service blackout.

As per the reports,most of the MSOs and cable operators have failed to submit the SAFs and CAFs and may face penal charges for non-compliance of TRAI directive.

“We have informed that there will be no extension of deadline. After August 23,only those consumers will receive (cable TV) signals who have submitted their details and which have been loaded in our system,” said GS Kesarwani,deputy advisor,TRAI.

He said so far TRAI has received details of only 30 per cent of consumers from Kolkata. “We met the MSOs twice since July. There will be a review on August 23 and errant MSOs will face the music. One MSO and 14 cable operators had been booked in Delhi for non-compliance. The same may happen in Kolkata as well. Signals to about five lakh set top boxes in Delhi and another eight lakh in Mumbai were snapped for not abiding by the rules,” he added.

While the MSOs blame it on the laidback attitude of the cable operators,the latter in turn point a finger at the MSOs for not providing them with the forms in the first place.

“For the last over two-and-a-half months,we have been asking the cable operators to do the needful. With only four days to go before signals are switched off,we have managed to get only 57 per cent of the customer info,” said Suresh Sethia,director,Siti Cable,one of the largest MSOs with over one million connections across the city.

Another south Kolkata MSO director said that the cable operators have failed to understand the gravity of the situation. “They think they would be able to continue with the kind of ‘dadagiri’ they have been used to so far. I have taken all precautions. If need be,I will have to turn my cable operators over to the authorities,” he said and added that cable operators have misinformed subscribers and delayed the process for “their own vested interests.”

Sudip Ghosh,director of Manthan,Kolkata’s second biggest MSO,said,“We have been able to submit about 25-30 per cent of the forms.”

Citing to bust the “myth that consumers will have to pay more” once the packages are introduced,Ghosh said “Under normal circumstances,people watch only about 10 channels. So they can make create their own pack and pay for those only.”

Meanwhile,A Raj,chairman,UCC,an association of about 45 cable operators,said that it will not be possible for them to meet the deadline. “It is physically not possible to complete the process by August 23. I think there will be an extension (of deadline),” he said.

Also,Apurba Bhattacharya,general secretary,Cable Operators Sangram Committee,added that the city was bracing for a massive confusion. “It is a lie that we are not cooperating. The MSOs have given only about 25 per cent of the forms to us then how can we complete the process for the entire subscriber base,” he asked.

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