Cable operators across Mumbai will blackout all channels on from 7 pm to 10 pm on 27-December to protest against a recent order of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) which says consumers will pay only for the channels they view. The order will come into effect on December 29 and cable operators allege this is a move by broadcasters to damage the business of cable operators.
According to the Cable Operators Distributors Association (CODA), operators’ incomes may decrease by more than half if the TRAI order is enforced. In protest, there will first be a three-hour blackout, followed by a march to the office of STAR TV on Friday. Finally, bouquets from the broadcasters will not be purchased. “We are ready to sit with the cable operators and negotiate and have no intention of throwing them out,” said an official working with a leading broadcaster who declined to come on record.
Shiv Sena legislator Anil Parab, who heads CODA, said “The broadcasters should ideally offer only individual channels, but here they are also offering bouquets which are priced in the range of Rs 31 to Rs 60. In this, the broadcasters have ensured that our share will go down substantially and we will be forced to shut shop.” He said cable operators who earn Rs 150 per connection monthly will now have to be content with Rs 60 monthly. “How can we survive with such reduced income when apart from installing equipment have also to maintain the whole line,” asked Parab, adding that consumers will have to bear the brunt as they will be burdened with cable bills of Rs 500 and more instead of the Rs 350 they pay now.
TRAI in its order had said that viewers would be allowed to select and pay for individual television channels from December 29, for which broadcasters would be required to draft a per month retail price (MRP) of the channels. Also, broadcasters may offer to their customer’s bouquets of channels, which should not be priced below 85 percent of the sum of MRPs of all the channels in the pack.― Hindustan Times