The migration to the a la carte system has led to a substantial section of Kolkata’s cable subscribers shifting to direct-to-home services.
Channel blackouts and imposition of packages by multi-system operators (MSO) have caused viewer discontent. This could see thousands more opting out of the MSO fold and settle either for DTH connections or internet TV viewing, said cable industry insiders. Around 8%-10% of the city’s cable subscribers have opted out after the tariff regime change.
“I had listed my channels and wanted them on a la carte basis, but my operator said they were unable to do that due to technical problems. Instead, they offered me a package that didn’t have half my preferred pay channels. So, I have moved to the DTH platform, which is far more professional, hassle-free and technology-driven. I have all my listed channels now,” said Rajkamal Ray, a Kasba resident.
Imposition of packages has left thousands of cable viewers fuming across the city. MSOs and operators have pushed them to make their task easier, said industry veteran Mrinal Chatterjee. “Reduced income due to low revenue share and loss of connections have forced operators to cut costs and work with a smaller workforce. They found it difficult to upload channels a la carte for each subscriber. But subscribers were obviously peeved as such packages defeated the purpose of migration,” Chatterjee said.
Other than losing their favourite channels, disruption due to payment disputes with broadcasters. too, have riled viewers. Manthan subscribers, for instance, have faced multiple blackouts for months over the last five years. Even now, the MSO has all its Sony channels blocked due to an alleged non-payment of dues.” Channel blackout had turned extremely irritating and i felt cheated. Last year, Sony channels went off in the middle of a Fifa world cup match. After mgration, they offered me a pack without the Sony Ten channels that broadcast European football. So i oved to DTH,” said Dipen Sarkar, a subscriber of MSO Manthan.
DTH platforms have seen a spurt in subscription since March, said cable trade observers. “This was waiting to happen since migration had left MSOs and cable operators in total disarray. They somehow managed to complete the process, but the majority of subscribers remain unhappy. Few actually got to choose their channels. DTH gives you exactly what you want,” an MSO official said.
An Airtel DTH official said they have been busy providing new connections since channel blackouts started in March. “Our system is technology-driven and offers facilities like online channel selection. Also, there is no disruption and channels are available à la carte, which most MSOs have failed to provide,” he said. ―Times of India