DTH cos ask govt for changes in current norm
(22 jan '09, 02.50. p.m.)

irect To Home (DTH) companies Bharti Airtel, Zee group promoted Dish TV and Reliance ADAG's Big TV have asked the government for changes in the

current norm that prevents them from revising tariffs for channels and packages for six months from the date of enrollment of a customer.

Bharti Airtel and Dish TV have told Trai that, often, free channels get converted to pay channels, and therefore, 'it is not fair on the DTH operator to continue offering it free for six months without any change in the rates'.

Bharti has also pointed out that broadcasters often pay DTH players to carry certain channels, and at the expiry of such agreements, they should be allowed to charge their customers for the channels despite the six-month clause.

Under existing norms, DTH players must offer a channel for a minimum period of six months. Big TV is of the view that this six-month time frame to carry a channel is not economically viable. The company has proposed that broadcasters be permitted to withdraw the channels whose ratings fall substantially over a 12-week period after giving customers a six week notice.

DTH operators have also opposed Trai's proposal to reduce customer subscription charges if a channel goes off air before the six-month time frame. Both Dish TV and Big TV have suggested that DTH operators be allowed to replace the channel that goes off air 'by a same genre channel'. "There should not be any reduction or refund of the subscription fee to the customer as channels are removed due to circumstances beyond the control of DTH. The reasons of such removal mostly pertain to the broadcaster," the company has told TRAI.

Operators also want Trai to do away with the norm that prevents DTH operators from disabling a subscriber's Set-Top-Box if he is not availing the service. Besides, they also want Trai to review an existing regulation that does not allow them to charge a reactivation fee from customers. "Since reconnection or reactivation involves substantial costs in terms of use and deployment of resources and customer services management, the DTH operator is forced to bear the cost of the same to comply with this illogical regulation," Bharti's communication added.


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