TRAI issues direction to Bharti Telemedia over non-compliance of regulatory norms

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a direction to direct to home (DTH) operator Bharti Telemedia (Airtel Digital TV) for non-compliance of the provisions of the new regulatory framework for the TV broadcasting sector.

In its direction, the TRAI noted that Bharti Telemedia is forcefully offering a bouquet of free-to-air (FTA) channels with no choice to subscribers, without their consent and with no additional NCF. This is in addition to the channels that the subscribers have opted for.

It also stated that the consumers are not able to contact the toll-free number of the DTH operator most of the time to express their grievance.

The authority issued the direction after receiving complaints and inspecting the website of Bharti Telemedia. The consumer premises were also inspected by TRAI officials on the received complaints.

It has directed Bharti Telemedia to resolve the two issues and report compliance as per the new regulatory framework within five days from the date of issue of this direction.

The direction to Bharti Telemedia comes close on the heels of the TRAI’s directions to six multi system operators (MSOs). While directing the MSOs to comply with the provisions of the new regulatory framework, the regulator had asked the MSOs to submit a compliance report within five days.

The directions were issued to Hathway Digital, DEN Networks, IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd (IMCL), Siti Networks, GTPL Hathway, and Fastway Transmission. The directions were issued following complaints received from consumers and inspection of consumer homes by TRAI officials.

Some of the common issues over which the six MSOs were pulled up include 1) forcing channels/packs to the consumers, 2) subscribers not being able to delete the channels, and 3) non-furnishing of printed bills to consumers.

Meanwhile, TRAI chairman RS Sharma has warned distribution platform operators (DPOs) of strict action if they are found violating the provisions of the new regulatory framework.

Sharma also stated that the authority is in the process of empanelling audit agencies and will soon begin an audit of the backend systems of the DPOs.

“We have received complaints about the inconvenience to customers. These complaints relate to software and systems put in place by distributors not enabling true choice for consumers, which is the aim of the whole framework. If the choice of channels is restricted…then basic intention seems to be to push packs and bouquets and push your own agenda. That is not the spirit of the regulatory framework,” Sharma told PTI.

He also stated that it is okay for consumers to choose packs or bouquets but the choice for TV viewing has to remain with customers. “If you disable consumers from exercising their choice then it is a true violation of the framework. We have taken these things seriously, and we have issued show cause notices to a number of distributors.”

You may be interested