The rollout of the new TV channel pricing mechanism by the media regulator has led to many users facing a black out or being saddled with the wrong set of channels and packs by their cable and DTH operator.
Even as the roll-out hits its fourth day, many continue to wait for their distributor to activate the packages they had selected last month under the due process.
However, in our tests, the problems related to the activation of new channels on both Tata Sky and Airtel Digital were successfully resolved by simply resubmitting the channel list, indicating that the problem may not be resolved through waiting alone.
In fact, users continue to complain on social media without realizing that at least some of the cases are related to IT glitches and can be resolved via a re-submission.
It is believed that the computer systems of the DTH players got overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of data they have had to process in the last three to four days.
To resubmit the list, Airtel Digital users can go to https://www.airtel.in/s/selfcare/DTH/CUSTOMERID/001/custompack after replacing CUSTOMERID with their 10-digit customer ID.
For example, if a user’s customer ID is 3020201234, then they have to visit: https://www.airtel.in/s/selfcare/DTH/3020201234/001/custompack Users will be asked to login to their Airtel account before accessing the above url.
Many users are unaware of the above requirement and are still waiting for their new plans to get active. The channel preferences under TRAI rules were originally submitted in January in keeping with the regulator’s directive.
Meanwhile, many of these users are being put on ‘best fit’ packages by DTH players, assuming that they have not exercised their choice in time.
More details about why this happened is not available.
BETTER CHANNELS COMING?
The migration to new packs is part of an attempt by the regulation to dismantle the system of channel packages and introduce an a-la carte system of television content viewing in India.
This is expected to improve consumer choice by removing junk channels from DTH and cable networks and making space for new, more creative channels of the future.
At present, big broadcasters use the practice of ‘channel bundling’ to clog up cable and DTH networks with ‘junk channels’ that nobody wants to watch. This prevents new channels from coming up and challenging their dominant position in the market.
Channel owners force cable and DTH operators to distribute these junk channels via the mechanism of bundling or packaging.
TRAI’s effort aims to strike at the heart of the bundling system — differential pricing of channels based on whether they are purchased individually or as a part of a bundle.
However, TRAI’s effort has only met with partial success so far due to an intervention by the Madras High Court, which struck down channel pricing rule issued by TRAI in 2017.
In its notification in 2017, TRAI had said that the price of a channel should be largely similar whether it is purchased by itself or as a part of a pack. This was struck down by the Madras High Court as being arbitrary.
Due to the striking down of this rule, many consumers have to still subscribe to packs instead of individual channels as individual channels have been priced at a high rate.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court is expected to weigh in on the matter soon in a case filed by DTH players. The case will be heard in court today.