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Madhya Pradesh LCOs get interim relief from CAF deadline

MUMBAI: The Malwa Cable Operator Sangh (MCOS) has got a shot in the arm as the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has given interim relief to the local cable operators on the submission of customer application forms (CAF).

The HC has given 21 more days to the LCOs in Madhya Pradesh to complete the collection of CAFs. While providing interim relief, the HC disposed of the petition filed by the MCOS and directed it to seek remedy from appropriate authorities.

The MCOS had filed a writ petition challenging the TRAI tariff order and interconnect regulation. In its petition, the MCOS had pleaded that the tariff order and interconnect regulation must be quashed and set aside till final disposition of the petition.

It had also urged the HC to set aside the directive regarding CAF submission and prohibit the MSOs from accessing the details of customers belonging to the LCOs.

With the HC asking the MCOS to seek remedy from appropriate authorities, the association is most likely to meet in the next few days to chalk out their future course of action.

Ajit Singh Baveja, a member of MCOS, stated that the association would most likely move the Supreme Court against the digital addressable system (DAS) regulation as they have got only interim relief.

“We are most likely to move the Supreme Court; however, the final decision will be taken by the MCOS,” Baveja told TelevisionPost.com from Indore.

The TRAI had, on 17 January, directed cable operators in Bhopal, Indore and Jabalpur to complete CAF collection by 7 February. The three cities in Madhya Pradesh were covered in Phase II of DAS.

The authority had also asked the multi-system operators (MSOs) to deactivate the set-top boxes (STBs) of customers who failed to submit their CAFs by the deadline.

Had the MCOS not approached the HC, the MSOs would have deactivated the STBs of customers who had failed to submit their CAFs.

The MCOS, through its president Iqbal Khan, had challenged the TRAI’s tariff order and interconnect regulation contending that these violated their fundamental rights.

In its petition, the MCOS had said that the submission of CAFs to the MSOs would make them vulnerable as the latter would have access to all details about their customers.

The petition also stated that the tariff order and the interconnect regulation were arbitrary and discriminatory towards the LCOs who own the last-mile customers. This, the MCOS argued, would put the LCOs at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the MSOs.

The cable operators’ body also contended that the revenue share formula designed by TRAI was favourable to the MSOs.

TRAI’s DAS regulation was unconstitutional as it transferred the powers of the LCOs like channel packaging, customer billing and activation/deactivation of STBs, etc. to the MSOs, stated the petition.