TV BLACKOUT: TRAI issues show-cause notice to DTH operator

All DTH operators other than Free Dish were forced to shift their subscribers

Media regulator TRAI said it has issued a show cause notice to a ‘large’ platform operator for showing black screens to its customers during the migration to the new TV channel tariff scheme.

It did not give the name of the platform operator, merely noting that it was a large one.

TRAI, keen to avoid a consumer blowback, had issued instructions to all cable and DTH players not to cut off their signals if these customers have balance in their account.

However, according to consumer complaints on social media, a couple of DTH players did actually black out the screens of some of their subscribers.

“The Authority has issued explicit direction to all the service providers to ensure that there are no interruptions…in cases where subscribers are availing pre-paid service, no disruption of service will be caused, if there is a credit balance available in the subscriber’s wallet/account…However, the Authority received information that while migrating consumers, one large service provider has caused black out on the TV screen of a few-thousand subscribers. Taking a serious view, the Authority has issued show cause notice to that service provider,” TRAI said in a statement today.

Moreover, a far higher number of consumers have been complaining about cable and DTH operators activating the wrong plan on their account even after they submitted the plan of their choice in January.

The situation was made worse by the fact that the helplines and websites of many of these providers were down or non-functional for varying periods of time.

“The Authority has noticed that due to heavy rush, the website of some DPOs have crashed intermittently and little inconvenience was caused to some subscribers due to sporadic local issues… Some subscribers have also reported difficulties in accessing the call centres to register their options owing to high number of calls.

“The Authority assures such subscribers to be patient if they are unable to exercise options due to limitation/non-functioning of service provider’s website/ Mobile App etc.

Distribution Platform Operators have assured the Authority that sufficient opportunity will be provided to such subscribers for submitting their options and availing the TV channels as per choice,” it said.

Consumers of all DTH platforms, including market leader Tata Sky, competitors Airtel Digital, Dish TV and D2h have been taking to social media to voice their complaints with regard to delays and other problems around the migration to the new tariff plans with effect from Feb 1.

A total of 150-200 million connections are estimated to have been migrated to new plans on Feb 1.

Many cases of delays and problems in the migration to the new tariff plans could be sorted by consumers simply resubmitting the channel selection using the operators’ website or app.