Trai Warns Airtel Digital TV to Comply With New Regulatory Framework Rules

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Sector regulator Trai on Tuesday directed Airtel Digital TV to comply with the provision of the new regulatory framework for broadcasting and cable TV services, as it took serious note of consumer complaints pertaining to the DTH operators' specific offering and grievance redressal helpline. "The said DTH operator is forcefully offering a bouquet of free-to-air channels with no choice to subscribers, without their consent and with no additional NCF (Network Capacity Fee). This is in addition to the channels opted by the subscribers," Trai said in its direction available on its website.

Most of the times, the consumers are unable to contact the toll-free number of Bharti Telemedia to express their grievance, Trai added. "Now, therefore, the authority, in the exercise of its power...directs Bharti Telemedia Ltd to resolve the issues mentioned...and to report compliance as per the new regulatory framework within five days from the date of issue of this direction," it added.

The action was based on complaints and inspection of the website of Bharti Telemedia, the DTH arm of Airtel, and inspection of the consumer premises by Trai officials on the complaints received, it added.

On Monday, Trai Chairman R S Sharma had warned of strict action against those cable TV and DTH players who are found violating the regulator's new tariff order and regulatory regime. The watchdog has also promised to shortly begin "audit" of subscriber management and other IT systems of errant operators.

Sharma had said consumer choice and consumer interest are "non-negotiable" and "cannot be compromised" and that companies not adhering to rules will have to face the consequences.

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