Everybody hates the cable guy

Hindustan Times
April 11, 2003

The OFT-REPEATED complaint by cable customers that they are being charged in an arbitrary manner by cable operators has now found an echo in a survey conducted in A-class cities across the country.

Conducted by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) with inputs from cable homes in cities, including Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai, the survey revealed a great deal of resentment among cable consumers.

Sixty four per cent of the customers surveyed were of the opinion that there has been an unreasonable increase in service charges in the last one year. A majority of the consumers expressed their dissatisfaction over the quality of services being provided by the cable operators.

CUTS researcher Anjali Bansal said the dissatisfaction is compounded because of the cable operators not issuing receipts against payments. “Without a receipt, they cannot even approach consumer groups for seeking redressal for their grievance,” she said.

A large number of consumers are not aware of the government regulation providing for conditional access system(CAS) to the cable customers. Over 70 per cent of the cable users were unaware of the set-top boxes or CAS, the report said. The government had approved the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2002, that provides for CAS or a view-what-you-want –channel system.

The worst part was that 70 percent of the customers said they did not have an option to switch over to another service provider in case of errant cable connection from their present operator. “This is because cable operators form cartels and divide territories among themselves,” said Pradeep S. Mehta, CUTS Secretary General.

The sample survey was based on a respondent strength of 2,500 cable users from different A class cities. The responses were taken on a questionnaire prepared by CUTS.

Troubled by cable operators and the monopoly of the multi system operators in Jaipur, city lawyers took charge and formed a panel to provide complainants with legal help, if necessary. The latest findings suffice the panel’s formation.

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