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Cable TV channels still off air in Kolkata

The channels of at least three broadcasters remained off air for hundreds of thousands of cable TV subscribers for the third consecutive day on Monday.

Sony, Disney Star and Zee took off their channels after a section of multi-system operators (MSOs) refused to implement a revised tariff structure notified by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

The MSOs and cable operators have alleged that the new structure pushes up the cost of the bouquets — a bunch of channels from a broadcaster — exorbitantly.

If implemented, it will result in further erosion of a subscriber base already dented by DTH and OTT platforms, they have argued.

A petition in Calcutta High Court, filed by a section of cable operators challenging the implementation of the new tariff rate, is likely to be heard on Tuesday.

“If the new rate is implemented, there will be a general rise of 30 to 35 per cent for the bouquets. If that happens, many customers will move on to DTH and OTT,” said Tapas Das, one of the petitioners.

A similar petition filed by the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) in Kerala High Court came up for hearing on Monday. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi represented the AIDCF. The hearing will continue on Tuesday.

The observations made by the courts in the coming days could pave the way for a settlement, said MSO players and cable operators.

The AIDCF has in a press note listed the price of bouquets before and after the new tariff structure. The monthly cost of a “Star Value Pack” focussed on a Bengali consumer would go from Rs 49 to Rs 62, the release said. A “Zee Family Pack” would cost Rs 49 per month, up from Rs 39.

The Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation has accused the federation of “defiance of the law” and holding “subscribers hostage, solely for its own commercial reasons and circulating misleading information”. Telegraph India

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