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Viewers feel unplugged

IN THE ongoing tussle between cable TV operators and broadcasters, who are the real gainers, who are the losers? Besides, who is there to watch the interest of the subscribers?? Are they (subscribers) merely pawns in the Star wars? These are some questions that have been posed by the Cable Sewa Upbhogta Sarakshan Samiti in a letter to Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, a day before a crucial meeting convened by the Entertainment Tax Commissioner here with the city?s cable TV operators on Monday.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 00:42 IST

IN THE ongoing tussle between cable TV operators and broadcasters, who are the real gainers, who are the losers? Besides, who is there to watch the interest of the subscribers’? Are they (subscribers) merely pawns in the Star wars?
These are some questions that have been posed by the Cable Sewa Upbhogta Sarakshan Samiti in a letter to Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, a day before a crucial meeting convened by the Entertainment Tax Commissioner here with the city’s cable TV operators on Monday.

“Apparently, the adage ‘consumer is the king’ in a market driven economy does not apply to cable TV viewers? Or how else would the entertainment tax commissioner explain not inviting anybody from the viewers’ side to the meeting to represent their point of view and explain how they are being harassed by their local cablewallah,” said president of the Sarakshan Samiti AP Ojha.

In its letter to the CM the Cable TV Viewers’ Association has put forward seven demands to rewrite the rules of an industry that is presently heavily tilted in favour of the service provider. The demands include inviting representatives of viewers association in all future government meeting with the cable TV operators.

Passing on the benefit accruing from any kind of tax rebate to the viewers. No hike in present subscription fee. An arrangement at the police station level where a viewer would have the right to lodge an FIR against his cable operator, if the latter snaps his connection without any rhyme of reason. No arbitrary swapping/switching of channels by the operator, who should give in writing what particular channel he is showing on which number to the Entertainment Tax Department.

Resume telecast of all channels of Star bouquet immediately. Make free-to-air those channels on which the operators carry advertisements.

“The cable TV business, in terms of subscriber-strength, is next only to telephone and power consumers, in the cities. Yet nobody in the government seems to care for their interest,” said Ojha.

For how long are we going to be at the mercy of the operator? The cable TV operators must have arbitrarily stopped transmission over a dozen time either on the issue of subscription hike or payment of entertainment tax in the past three-years or so.

In fact, the last such strike was called off on your (Yadav’s) assurance that while the operators would not charge subscription fee over Rs 200, they (operators) would be levied entertainment tax on a fixed basis and not in terms of percentage, the association reminded the CM.

First Published: Mar 20, 2006 00:42 IST