Direct to home (DTH) service provider Dish TV has been issued a notice by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for non-compliance with the provisions and guidelines of the new regulatory framework for television subscriptions in India. Dish TV also owns the D2H DTH service. This comes a day after the regulator also pulled up Bharti Telemedia, which own the Airtel Digital TV DTH services for not complying with the new guidelines.
In an official statement, TRAI says, “The said DTH operator is forcefully offering a bouquet of free-to-air channels with no choice to subscribers and without their consent. This is in addition to the channels opted by the subscribers and the following message is being displayed - This is a free to air bouquet at no extra charge. If you have selected any pay channel, then this bouquet will not impact your NCF.” The regulator also noted that consumers have complained that they were not able to contact Dish TV and D2H customer care.
TRAI, in its notice to Dish TV and D2H has given the DTH platforms five days to rectify these issues. The new tariff order which became applicable earlier this year mandates all cable and DTH companies to offer consumers the full flexibility of choosing and paying for the channels they wish to see, as a part of a broadcaster pack, a curated pack or as individual (also known as ala-carte) channels. They will only pay for the channels they subscribed to, plus the network capacity fees which is fixed at Rs 130 per month plus taxes for the first 100 channels subscribed by a user. At no point can the DTH or cable operator automatically activate a channel for a user without their consent.
A day earlier, TRAI had issued a similar notice to Airtel Digital TV. In an official statement, the regulator noted, “The said DTH operator is forcefully offering a bouquet of free-to-air channels with no choice to subscribers, without their consent and with no additional NCF. This is in addition to the channels opted by the subscribers.” Also, Airtel Digital TV users have complained that they were unable to contact the customer care center to get their channel packages in place. Airtel Digital TV users have also been offered more channels than they had opted for, with their subscription packs.
Bharti Telemedia has also been given 5 days from when the notice was issued, to rectify the channel packages for its subscribers.
Earlier this month, TRAI had issued notices to cable TV operators as well. These included GTPL Hathway, SITI Networks, Hathway Digital, Fastway Transmissions, Den networks and Indusind Media for not following the guidelines put in place with the New Regulatory Framework For Broadcasting and Cable TV Services.
The consumer complaints that TRAI received against GTPL Hathway mentioned that the distribution platform operator (DPO) was forcing users to opt for certain channels and channel packages. At the same time, subscribers were not able to remove a channel from their subscription package. TRAI also noted that “is not providing bill receipt of payment made in printed form to the consumers.”
In the case of SITI Networks, there was the additional issue of subscribers not being able to log in to their account to subscribe to channels of their choice, apart from the complaints indicating that the DPO was forcing subscription for certain channels and channel packages and not providing a printed receipt for the payment received from users.
The common complaints in the case of all Cable TV DPOs include the forced subscription of channels and packages even though the subscribers didn’t want them, subscribers not being able to modify their channel subscription packages and no printed receipt for the payment of the bill.