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Channel chaos hits DTH viewers
Telegraph India, March 18, 2019

Direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers in the city are a harried lot with their chosen packages taking long to get activated and channels disappearing suddenly in the new tariff regime over the last month or so.

A large number of cable TV subscribers had faced similar problems during the transition to the new regime.

Many DTH subscribers in the city said the websites of the service providers, where one has to register his or her choice, were difficult to navigate. The helplines are of little help, too.

Those who have got in touch with the dealers who had sold them the connections alleged no help came their way.

The subscribers who had booked a package on a yearly basis before the new tariff came into force
, however, remain unaffected.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has mandated that for every cable and DTH connection, the subscriber has to choose channels under a new price regime. The initial deadline for the transition was December 28, 2018, but it was pushed back to January 31, 2019, and then to March 31 in the face of non-compliance.

The problems on the DTH platform include chosen packages taking days to be activated, channels that have been paid for going off air after being activated, and subscribers failing to choose add-on channels on an a-la-carte basis after selecting a package and free-to-air channels.

Multi-system operators had started the process of shifting subscribers to the new regime from the first week of February, which is why cable TV subscribers were the first to face channels blackouts and other difficulties.
DTH subscribers were initially unaffected but started facing problems when the operators on this platform, too, started the transition. A resident of Park Street with a DTH connection said “niche pay channels” had gone off air on March 10. Within minutes, the subscriber notified the operator on its website the list of channels he wanted to pay for. He had to wait for 72 hours for the package to be activated. When he called the helpline number on Monday, he was given the contact numbers of five dealers who could help him select channels. “The numbers were either not in use or wrong,” the subscriber said.

Rana Munshi, from Sonarpur, said he was forced to miss La Liga and other sporting action because Sony’s SIX and TEN channels went off air.

Robin Chatterjee, 83, from Serpentine Lane in central Calcutta, said: “Most pay channels went off air in the middle of February. We were missing serials and sports. The monthly subscription had been paid, yet a message asking for payment was flashing across the screen. The dealer has no answer.”

Chatterjee switched to cable TV from DTH to get back the channels.

A distributor of three major DTH players in the Gariahat area said he was getting calls from subscribers who had taken connections from him.

“I am forwarding the complaints to the technical team of the respective companies.

The problems are being addressed but sometimes it is taking time because of the number of complaints,” the man said.

There are 7 lakh DTH subscribers and 32 lakh cable subscribers in Calcutta, according to industry estimates.

Industry insiders said there had been migrations between the two platforms over the past month because of inadequacies in service.

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