Tuesday 8 May 2012

Quality and Standards of Digital Cable TV

The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2011 has made it mandatory for switch-over of the existing analogue Cable TV networks to Digital Addressable System (DAS) by December 2014, in a phased manner. In respect of four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, the digital switch-over is to be completed by 30th June 2012. Concerns had been raised by some stakeholders regarding the quality of Set Top Boxes (STBs) and the redressal of grievances of the cable TV subscribers. 

Necessary provisions have been incorporated in the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2012 to take care of these concerns. As per these Rules, the STBs to be supplied by the Multi System Operators (MSOs) must conform to the quality standards specified by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The MSOs are also required to devise a mechanism for grievance redressal, as specified by the Authority (TRAI), and inform the details thereof to the subscribers. The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection Regulation, 2012 has a provision that the STBs must be BIS compliant . 

During a high level review meeting by the Ministry with the national level MSOs, it was revealed that out of about one crore STBs required in the four metros, over 22 lakhs STBs have already been installed, about 25 lakhs STBs are available in the stock which are being installed and the orders have already been issued for the balance requirements of STBs. MSOs have confirmed that all the indigenously manufactured STBs conform to the BIS standard and the imported STBs not only conform to the international standard but also the BIS standard. Regarding the repair of defective STBs, the MSOs have intimated that within the warranty period of one year, a defective STB will be replaced immediately free of cost. After the expiry of warranty period, a faulty STB will be taken back for repairs by giving a replacement from the available stock. The MSOs have further confirmed that the Grievance Cells are being set up for resolution of disputes, if any, and the telephone numbers of the Grievance Cells would be notified. 

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