TRAI Ropes In BECIL To Audit Systems Of Cable TV, DTH Operators

Sector regulator TRAI has roped in state-owned Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL) to conduct audits to ensure that cable TV and DTH companies comply with its new regulatory norms.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which had earlier warned of action against operators found to be flouting the new tariff order and regulatory regime, said that audits in this regard will begin soon.

“BECIL will conduct the audit on behalf of TRAI, to ensure compliance with the new regulatory framework. We request all distribution platform operators (DPOs) to ensure compliance with the new regulatory framework in letter and spirit,” TRAI Secretary S. K. Gupta told PTI.

Gupta said a decision is being taken on the companies that would face the audit of systems.

“DTH and Cable TV operators will be randomly selected and audit will be conducted to see if they are in compliance with the new regulatory framework,” he said.

Over the last few days, TRAI has pulled up a number of operators, both Cable TV and DTH service providers, for violation of rules, as it acted on consumer complaints pertaining to specific offerings, grievance redressal helplines, and arbitrary migration of subscribers with valid long-term packs to new plans.

In some cases, TRAI noted that the players were forcing channels and package schemes on consumers, and subscribers were not able to exercise their choice.

Most recently, TRAI rapped direct-to-home (DTH) operators Tata Sky, Dish TV, and Sun Direct TV, for failing to abide by the rules, particularly pertaining to the migration of subscribers who had long-term packs.

TRAI Chairman R. S. Sharma had, last month, said the regulator plans to initiate “audit” of subscriber management and other IT systems of errant operators. Sharma had said consumer choice and consumer interest are “non-negotiable” and “cannot be compromised” and that companies not adhering to rules will have to face the consequences.

The audit planned by TRAI will look at multiple aspects, including subscriber management system and billing, and also determine whether consumers are indeed getting their choice of channels, be it bouquets or a la carte. “The audits will start very soon,” Gupta said.

TRAI has unveiled a new tariff order and regulatory regime for the broadcast and cable sector, to facilitate consumers to opt for channels they wish to view and pay only for them. It had said every channel should be offered a la carte, with a transparent display of rates on electronic programme guide.

The regulator also clarified that DTH and cable operators cannot force consumers to go in for only predefined packages or bouquets.―The Hindu Business Line

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