Thousands of cable homes must brace for life without Indian Badminton League action and episodes of Breaking Bad or Jodha Akbar this week.
For, cable connections to many homes that have not submitted subscriber application forms are set to be snapped on Monday with the telecom regulatory authority pressuring service providers to enforce the law.
More than 80,000 cable connections were snapped on Saturday, the drive continued on Sunday and it is likely to gather momentum on Monday.
All cable connections of which the details were not available with the MSOs (multi-system operators) in the form of a filled-in subscriber application form were supposed to have been switched off after Friday midnight.
But as the figure is more than 15 lakh — half the total number of cable connections in the city — the MSOs had informed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) that they were disconnecting only a few connections at a time to guard against a “law-and-order problem”.
Trai has sought more details to get a fix on the number of TV connections running illegally in the city. “The MSOs in Calcutta gave us the number of connections that each of them had deactivated on Saturday. The total came to 80,000. The process is continuing on Sunday. But we have asked the MSOs to provide more details on Monday,” a senior Trai official told Metro from Delhi.
“The MSOs must declare their total subscriber base, the total number of forms submitted and the number of disconnections so far,” he added.
He also said that criminal proceedings would be started against the MSOs if it was found at any point that they had provided wrong figures or tried to mislead the authorities.
Sources in TRAI said the regulatory authority was not convinced that 80,000 boxes had actually been disconnected in the city on Saturday.
Even if the figure is correct, only five per cent of the “illegal” connections in the city were snapped. The authorities, who could not get updated figures on Sunday as the offices of the MSOs were closed, wants a sharp increase in the number of disconnections.
“It has been conveyed to the MSOs that the deadline is already over. There has been no official extension. Set-top boxes of more and more defaulters have to be deactivated at this juncture,” said the TRAI official from Delhi.
The authority would hold a meeting in Delhi on Monday to decide when its officials will start their visits to the MSO offices in Calcutta to crosscheck the details.
If they decide to do so immediately, TRAI officials in Calcutta can begin the raids from Monday itself.
“The raids can start whenever Delhi decides and we are waiting for a word from them. Technically, it could have started on Saturday morning itself,” said a TRAI official in Calcutta.
While some MSOs at Calcutta claimed that set-top boxes were being completely disconnected others said that only the pay channels were being yanked off.
But the MSO across the city said that deactivation of boxes was turning out to be a very effective tool as customers were submitting the form soon after.
“Within minutes of the deactivation, most people are rushing to the cable operator to submit the form. Some of them who were yet to collect forms, were finishing the entire process in no time to get their connection restored,” said Suresh Sethia of Siti Cable.
According to him, many customers downloaded the form and went to the MSO’s Salt Lake office to submit it.