Screens Go Blank Without Warning

Thousands of television sets on both cable and direct-to-home (DTH) platforms are going blank allegedly without any intimation.

Representatives of multi-system and DTH operators said this would continue for the next few days because the deadline for the switch to the new tariff regime had passed.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had set March 31 as the deadline for switching to a new tariff regime, in which subscribers have to register and pay for the channels they want to watch.

But many consumers on both DTH and cable TV platforms have not yet registered their choice. The process of “switching off” the set-top boxes of such subscribers had started about a week ago and would be completed shortly, industry insiders said.

There are around 32 lakh cable TV and seven lakh DTH subscribers in the city. Around 25 per cent of them, according to industry estimates, have not yet registered their choice.

The initial deadline for the migration to the new regime was December 28. It was pushed back twice, to January 31 and March 31, as subscribers were not responding in adequate numbers.

Most of the subscribers who have not registered their choice said they had not done so either because channel prices were “too high under the new price regime” or they were expecting the deadline to be pushed back.

Consumers, especially on DTH platforms, expressed surprise over the suddenness of the screens going blank.

“I knew we would have to register the channels we wanted to watch but did not imagine our DTH service provider would not send us any intimation before snapping the connection. They keep sending us all sorts of promotional text messages but there was no communication before our connection was snapped on Tuesday (March 26),” said a resident of Karunamoyee in Salt Lake, who had bought a prepaid monthly rental plan of Rs 650 in the earlier regime.

Aniket Bose of Kalikapur, a Siticable customer, said he had registered a list of channels for one of his connections but was taking time for the other because he had heard the deadline would be extended. The TV set for which he is yet to register his choice went blank a few days ago.

“I was expecting a scroll on the TV screen warning me that the connection would be snapped before they would actually do so. But it happened suddenly,” said Bose, who works at a firm in Sector V.

Rupak Bhattacharjee, president, All Bengal Cable Operators’ Association, said switching off the connection was inevitable because the broadcasters had started demanding money for such connections.―Telegraph India

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