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Blackout threat for cable viewers

Cable operators have gradually started snapping the beaming of signals for several channels to those set-top boxes against which subscriber application forms have not been duly filled and submitted.

An estimated one lakh television sets in the state capital are likely to face blackouts by the end of this month with the commencement of package-based cable TV.

“We have stopped beaming signals to over 10,000 set-top boxes over the past fortnight because people did not fill the subscriber application form. We would start package-based cable TV in a full-fledged manner from September 1. Connections to any set-top box against which subscribers have not filled up the form would be switched off by then,” said Sushil Kumar, director, Darsh Digital Network Pvt. Ltd.

As mandated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) under the Digital Addressable Cable TV System Regulations, 2012, the subscriber application form requires cable TV viewers to fill in their personal details and the channels of their choice.

The package-based cable TV system being implemented under the 2012 regulations envisages that people would pay only for those channels which they want to see on their television sets.

For instance, SITI Maurya Cablenet, one of the multiple-system operators (MSOs) in Patna, is offering 100 free-to-air channels. This includes all Doordarshan channels and Zee Purvaiya at a monthly subscription charge of Rs 127.36 (Rs 100 plus taxes) under its Janta pack.

Similarly, the Popular pack would offer as many as 180 channels, including pay-channels at Rs 217.25 (Rs 180 plus taxes), while around 200 channels would be offered for a monthly rental of Rs 265 (Rs 223 plus taxes) under SITI Maurya’s Grand pack.

Similar rates are being offered by Darsh Digital Network, the only difference being the names: they have a bouquet of Basic (Rs 127.36 plus taxes), Silver, Gold and Platinum (Rs 280) to choose from.

The 2012 regulations also empower the MSOs to stop beaming signals to those set-top boxes for which the form has not been submitted by the subscriber.

According to the directive of the ministry of information and broadcasting, cable operators in cities such as Patna were to stop beaming signals to households which have not submitted these forms by July 31. Accordingly, the cable operators have blocked around 100 channels from such television sets.

“Not more than 40,000 out of our consumer base of around 1.5 lakh people have filled up the subscriber application forms. We have started blocking signals of some of the channels in a phased manner. The connectivity to such set-top boxes would be stopped within a fortnight,” said Rajnish Dikshit, director, SITI Maurya Cablenet.

Residents are miffed at the sudden blackout of some of their favourite channels.

“Several channels, including Star Plus, Channel V, Ten Sports and Cartoon Network, went off the air from Saturday. My local cable operator said the channels are being blocked because we have not submitted the subscriber application form. My mother told me that the form was given by the cable operator in July,” said Sunita Mishra of Boring Road.

The subscriber application form is similar to a booklet and mentions the list of channels being offered under different packages.

The channels are listed under different genres like Hindi Entertainment, Hindi Movies, Hindi News, English News, Hindi Business News, Kids Music, lifestyle, Infotainment and Education, International, Sports and devotional.

Regional language channels — Bhojpuri, Bangla, Gujarati, Marathi, Oriya, Urdu, Punjabi, Assamese and Tamil — are also on offer. The subscriber is required to tick on the package he or she wants to opt for.


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