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Wait for flat rate to watch TV

Kanak Sinha (50), resident of Kanke Road, Ranchi, pays Rs 350 a month to her cable operator. Savita Pal (30), a homemaker of Old Commissioner’s Compound in the capital, who gets the same number of satellite channels as Sinha, around 300, pays Rs 200 a month.

Ranchi, Jharkhand’s first city to switch over completely to the digital mode of delivering satellite TV content, is struggling with lack of parity in monthly rentals across different areas. But Cable Operators’ Association, constituted on January 18, promises to redress this irregularity.

According to an amendment in section 9 of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Ordinance, 1995, the Union information and broadcasting ministry makes digital addressable system mandatory to help consumers get more channels and better quality viewing.

Ranchi was among the 38 cities selected for digitisation last year after four metros — Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai. In Ranchi, viewers access satellite TV channels digitally via set-top boxes (direct-to-home (DTH) systems). The analog signal era is over.

In Jamshedpur, both digital and analog signals reach satellite television consumers. Dhanbad makes do only with analog signals. Both cities, however, fall under phase III of digitalisation covering all urban areas of India, with a deadline of September 30, 2014.

What all cities share in common is the lack of parity in charges.

In Ranchi, consumers pay between Rs 200 and Rs 350; in Jamshedpur, rentals can be Rs 200, Rs 250 and Rs 300; in Dhanbad, around Rs 100-Rs 150.

In Ranchi, after digitisation in April 2013, 181 cable operators came under three multi-system operators (MSOs) — Manthan Durang, GTPL and DEN.

But, MSOs did not address subscriber problems related to new connections, different rates or other issues.

The day-old organisation — with 81 of the 181 operators under its fold so far — is claiming it would solve the glitches.

Sachidanand Mishra, selected as the outfit’s convener, said: “Different operators charge different rates. Now, there will be a universal rate.”

The lack of parity in rates is everywhere, Mishra said.

“There are 181 cable operators under three MSOs. Operators also pay different sums to the MSOs. If one cable operator pays Rs 35,000 per 300 connections, another gives the same sum per 400 connections. This creates conflicts,” he said.


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