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Consumerís call on cable bill
- MSOs put the onus on subscribers to ensure adherence

A system is in place to provide bills and receipts against payment of monthly cable TV subscription and subscribers must lodge complaints if their service providers donít provide any, multi-system operators said on Wednesday.

Unlike in the analogue regime, the MSOs now have details of their 30 lakh subscribers in the city and bills will be issued every month against each registered set-top box.

ďWe have started the process and our subscribers should ask their cable operators for bills from December onwards,Ē Sudip Ghosh, director of Manthan Broadband Services, said during a news conference attended by all MSOs.

Metro explains what the introduction of the computerised billing system means.

Why bills and receipts after all these years?

Subscribers have always been entitled to bills and receipts acknowledging that they have paid their monthly cable TV subscription and there are no arrears against a connection.

But cable operators have so far relied on a formatted card where the subscriber signs, mentioning the date on which he or she paid the subscription along with the month for which the payment was made. In this system, the subscriber does not possess proof of having paid the subscription.

Has the importance of a bill/receipt increased after the switch from analogue to digital cable TV?

The bill is evidence of you being a legitimate consumer and the receipt confirms you have paid your dues.

If at a later date, you approach your MSO or the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India with any grievance, it wonít be entertained unless you produce proof of having paid your subscription regularly.

ďIt will be like your electricity or telephone bill,Ē Manthanís director said.

How will bills reach subscribers?

MSOs will issue bills online. Their franchisees or local cable operators are required to print those bills and distribute among their subscribers along with a receipt against each payment. But subscribers arenít sure their cable operators will make the effort.

Cable operators cater to 700 subscribers each on an average and many of them could find printing so many bills a hassle, if not imposing.

ďMy cable operator hasnít even bothered to collect the SAF (subscriber application form) from me till now. He enquired over phone which package of channels I would like to watch, thatís all. I donít yet know if I am a legal subscriber or not,Ē a resident of central Calcutta said.

How can a subscriber be sure the bill he/she gets is genuine?

Do check if the bill that has been handed to you by your cable operator bears the name of your MSO or not. The bill should also contain the service tax number, the amusement tax number and other details such as the address and the phone numbers of the MSO.

ďEach bill will also have a number unique to that particular month,Ē said Ghosh of Manthan.

If as a consumer you are not satisfied with these details, call the helpline of your MSO to check if it has received your payment.

Is package switching allowed?

Yes. At any time, but do make sure your cable operator conveys it to the MSO.