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Many viewers yet to get new TV tariffs
Economic Times, February 02, 2019

Mumbai: Confusion prevailed among DTH and cable TV subscribers as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) tariff order for TV channels came into force on Friday, with many of them yet to migrate to new plans.

While Trai claimed that migration to the new MRP-regime, where consumer will select and pay only for channels they want to watch, has already started, many consumers are clueless about the change and are waiting for their cable operators to come and ask for the choice.

Trai, on its part, has been issuing regular statements and carrying out review meetings with the stakeholders. As of last week, just over 40% of consumers had exercised the option, but the regulator was confident that in time, consumers would migrate.

“Consumer will exercise the option and nobody is going to switch-off the channels,” Trai secretary SK Gupta told ET. “Migration has already started, and we have ensured that consumers’ rights are protected.”

Trai has once again requested subscribers who are yet to exercise their choice to contact their service providers and register their choices without any further delay. ET earlier reported that the regulator had directed the distribution platforms to formulate transition plans for smooth migration, without putting consumers to any disadvantage.

However, out of 10 consumers that ET spoke with, eight had not exercised their choice. Five of them did not even know about the deadline. “I have multiple connections in my house and my cable operator has not reached out asking for my choice. When I called the number after reading the scroll on one of the channels, I was told to wait and that there will not be any blackout of service,” said one of the consumers from a western suburb of Mumbai. Broadcasters have been running messages on TV screen for the last few days to notify viewers to exercise the facility.

In a statement on Thursday, TRAI claimed that all service providers had confirmed their readiness to migrate to the new framework effective February 1.

When asked about customers who have paid in advance for the long term, Gupta said the pre-paid consumers would continue to get the channels or packages they had paid for, while on the backend, the DTH player would have to restructure the deal as per the new tariff order.

Gupta said it would take a few days for cable operators to completely shift all the post-paid customers, but he remained optimistic that the consumer was aware and would want to exercise his choice.

Advertisers, meanwhile, are in a wait and watch mode as their media agencies are monitoring the day-to-day developments.

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