In a move that could have repercussions across the country, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) moved a local court against cable operators who were not providing details of subscribers of set-top boxes to multi-system operators.
The telecom regulator was forced to approach the court as the cable operators were not providing the exact data of the subscribers. Under digitisation, all subscriber data has to be provided to the MSO, and later to the Centre. The exact data is crucial since it would be used to calculate revenue, taxes and profit sharing among the various shareholders. The TRAI filed the complaint before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vidya Prakash saying that the cable operators were violating its regulations regarding the implementation of digital addressable cable TV system for which a set-top box is to be attached with the TV set of the subscriber.
Complaints have been filed against more than a dozen cable operators.
Two phases of digitisation have been completed in the four metros and 36 million-plus population cities. Two more phases will cover the entire country, in which the STBs will be mandatory for viewing cable TV.
Under the digitisation process details of subscribers along with their choice of services, including choice of channels and bouquets, are to be complied by the cable operators. The cable operators have been under reporting their customer base to save on the taxes. But with the installation of the STBs, underreporting is curbed to a great extent.
The TRAI, in its review of position regarding deployment of set-top boxes in the four metros in first phase, found that all linked cable operators were not providing relevant consumer details like total number of set-top boxes seeded and operationalised their choice of channels bouquets and about subscribers. It also said the cable operators had failed to comply with its directive.
The outcome of the case would mean that cable operators across the country will be affected as the TRAI may approach more courts for getting the exact data on the subscriber base.