Telecom regulator Trai has now ruled out an extension of February 1 deadline for migration to the new regime for broadcasting and cable services and said it had assurances from service providers that work related to seeking consumer's choice of channels "is in full swing". "It has also been brought to the attention of the authority that certain rumours and misleading information is still being circulated contending that further extension of the time period for obtaining consumer choices is under consideration. The authority reiterates that there is no reason to consider any extension in view of the significant momentum in obtaining the choices and the assurances of all the service providers," Trai said in a statement, as reported by PTI.
Outlining a host of initiatives being taken by stakeholders and the regulator itself to ensure a smooth migration to the new regime within the stipulated timelines, Trai said the work related to obtaining the choice of consumers has been progressing "quite well" and that about 40% of the consumers have already exercised their options.
"The service providers have also given their assurances that work relating to seeking the options of the subscribers is in full swing and that they will take all the steps to obtain options of all their subscribers by January 31, 2019," the regulator's statement said.
Taking note of some rumours and misleading information being circulated on a possible extension of deadline, Trai said, "There is no reason to consider any extension in view of the significant momentum in obtaining the choices and the assurances of all the service providers."
"The subscribers who exercise their option within the prescribed time will be migrated from February 1, 2019. All subscribers are requested to exercise their option immediately without waiting for last minute. Subscribers may visit the website of their TV services provider or make a call to their call centre," it said.
Viewers can also use mobile apps or contact their local cable TV operator, it added. The regulator said it is aware of incidences where some Multi-Systems Operators (MSOs) in far-flung areas and smaller towns are not implementing the new regulatory framework in letter and spirit.
"The authority reiterates that every Distribution Platform Owner (DPO) and the broadcaster must implement the regulatory framework. The authority has issued an appropriate direction to all the DPOs (MSO/DTH/HITS/IPTV operators) and broadcasters to this effect today i.e. on January 24, 2019," it said.
Trai recently unveiled the new tariff order and regulatory regime for the broadcast and cable sector, which would pave the way for consumers to opt for channels they wish to view and pay only for them. Trai had prescribed a phased road map for 100% customer on-boarding by January 21.
It had said every channel should be offered a la carte, with a transparent display of rates on electronic programme guide. The telecom sector watchdog said it has been receiving hundreds of complaints informing that that one of the DTH (direct to home) service providers are not providing options to its subscribers to exercise their choices and providing misleading information in regard to the implementation of the new framework.
The regulator said it has "taken up the matter" and that the DTH operator has given a written assurance that they will be complying with the new regulatory framework and will make the options available for obtaining the consumers choice. "The authority assures all the subscribers that all efforts are being made to ensure that there is no inconvenience or any disruption of TV services due to the migration to the new regulatory regime," it said.