India’s TRAI hits Airtel DTH with demands

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India’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRAI) has demanded that pay-TV broadcaster Airtel Digital TV get its house in order following a succession of failures to address subscriber concerns.

To show how tough its demands are, TRAI is insisting on total compliance within five days, that is by this coming weekend.

TRAI also warned that other pay-TV broadcasters who violate its rules would face penalties. TRAI chairman R S Sharma said consumer choice and consumer interest are “non-negotiable” and “cannot be compromised” and that companies not sticking to TRAI’s rules will have to face the consequences.

Airtel DTH has been told that its current pattern of “forcefully” offering bouquets of FTA channels without choices by viewers, and without viewer consent. Moreover, most times subscribers cannot get through on the toll-free telephone complaints lines. It is acceptable for consumers to have choices but the choice for TV viewing must remain with customers.

The regulator has, in exercise of its powers under section 13, of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, directed Airtel’s owners Bharti Telemedia to resolve the issues and adhere to the various provisions of the quality of service and consumer protection Regulations and the new tariff order and to report compliance as per the new regulatory framework within five days.

“We are examining all the complaints and asking the operators to take corrective actions immediately. In some cases, the operator is not providing choice, or forcing their own channel packages, while another is not allowing consumers to change. In most of the cases, consumers are not able to reach the toll free number,” said a TRAI spokesman.


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