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CAS spells trouble for subscribers

The Conditional Access System (CAS), rolled out in some parts of the city in December 2006, has spawned a litany of complaints from cable TV subscribers.

Cable charges in CAS areas far exceed than those in non-CAS zones, complaints are not promptly addressed and there is no clue when the system will be implemented across the city and parity in service restored.

“A large percentage of the three lakh-odd CAS subscribers are dissatisfied. We receive around 150 complaints a month,” said Mala Banerjee, the president of the Federation of Consumer Associations.

Most complaints are about having to pay more than TV viewers in non-CAS areas for the same number of channels and the “inordinate delay” by cable operators in addressing service-related complaints.

CAS customers pay around Rs 400 for the channels that are available to the rest of the city for around Rs 200, said an industry insider.

Mrinal Chatterjee, a former member of the information and broadcasting ministry’s CAS committee, cable operators are not profiting much in CAS areas and hence, are not bothered about prompt redressal of complaints.

The major share of the profit goes to the multi-system operators (MSOs) and broadcasters and there is hardly anything left for the cable operators, also known as last mile operators (LMOs), said Chatterjee.

“The profit distribution needs to be looked into immediately to protect the interests of consumers.”

An industry insider said all decisions on channels comprising various packages are taken by MSOs, who are also responsible for beaming poor signals.

“LMOs have no role to play but the consumers think they are to blame for all their woes.”

CAS users also claimed that MSOs are forcing them to buy set-top boxes (STBs). According to a directive from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), users can either buy the STBs or hire them (at the rate of Rs 30 a month) from the MSOs.

Though talks are on for the upgrade of the set-top boxes for value-added-services, there is no assurance from the MSOs that these would be upgraded free when they would be introduced.

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