With a view to harmonize existing QoS provisions and also to formulate unified regulations for all digital addressable systems viz. Cable TV, DTH, HITS and IPTV, the Regulator has issued a Draft “The Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Digital Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2016,” on 10 October seeking comments from stakeholders before it issues the Regulations.
The Regulator had issued a consultation paper on “Issues related to Quality of Services in Digital Addressable Systems and Consumer Protection” on 18th May 2016, inviting comments from the stakeholders. An Open House Discussion in the subject matter was also organized on 28th July 2016 as a part of the consultation process. Comments of the stakeholders were taken in to consideration while formulating the draft “The Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Digital Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2016, Salient features of the draft regulations are:-
(i) Common framework for standard of QoS and consumer protection across digital addressable platforms viz DTH, Cable TV, IPTV, HITS.
(ii) Choice of subscription to a-la-carte channels and bouquets of channels by subscribers have been simplified.
(iii) Simplification of consumer premises equipment / Set top Box schemes.
(iv) Publicity of services using a designated link on the website of the Distribution Platform Operators called “Consumer Corner”.
(v) Conducting channels by the service providers.
(vi) Simplifications of Consumer Application Form (CAF) and encouraging use of electronic CAF.
(vii) Subscribers can get services temporarily suspended for upto three months in a year.
(viii) Mandatory provision to record the consent of the subscribers for any change in the subscribed packages.
(ix) Protection of consumer interest in case of prolonged and continued disruption in service beyond 72 hrs.
The present set of draft regulations for Quality of Service and consumer protection deal with almost every aspect of the DAS ecosystem fixing the responsibility of the broadcaster, the cable TV platform, the distributor and consumer. It covers everything from subscriber management systems to disconnection and reconnection of services to a la carte pricing to package pricing to the tariffs that can be charged by cable TV operators, MSOs, and broadcasters to billing to creating consumer awareness about DAS. Subjects covered include-
• Provision of TV Broadcasting Services
• Procedure for Connection
• Maintenance of Service after initial subscription which deal with changes in subscription, adding/ deleting channels or bouquets, non-availability of channels, temporary suspension/ disruption of services, shifting/ disconnection and price protection.
• Customer Care and Complaint Redressal including appointment of Nodal Officers. Authority has also decided to take action on any consumer complaints received directly from the subscriber.
• Billing and Payments. Both pre-paid and post-paid systems have been proposed.
• For supply and installation outright purchase as well as rental scheme is allowed. Distributors may also offer bundled schemes but they must be explained to the consumers adequately. Trai has now allowed a one-time activation fee to a maximum limit of Rs. 100 and an installation fee of Rs. 350 maximum It has also allowed a restoration fee of Rs. 25. Reactivation will be Rs. 100 maximum.
• For publicity and consumer awareness, distributors will have to have a website with a consumer corner where all service related information will be available to consumers.
• All distributors of TV services offering platform services like their own local channels and interactive channels shall also have a Consumer Care channel to provide detailed information to the consumers.
Public awareness campaign by MSOs and LCOs — Every distributor of TV channels and local cable operator shall conduct public awareness campaign about the salient features of the provisions contained in these regulations, and the measures implemented by the distributor of TV channels or local cable operator for consumer education with regard to the services made available to consumers in compliance of these regulations and submit such details to the Authority in a specified format.
Publicly of information by broadcasters. Every broadcaster shall publicise the MRP of its pay channel(s) and bouquet(s) through multiple means of communication such as website, scrolls in the concerned channels, periodically for wide publicity amongst the consumers and submit details of such measures to the Authority.
Price Protection. The broadcaster will have to ensure that the maximum retail price of such bouquet of pay channels in a relevant geographical area shall be uniform for all distribution platforms in that area; that it should not contain any free to air channel or HD or SD variants of the same channels or any premium channels.
Technical standards. Every broadcaster and distributor of TV channels shall maintain technical standards of the signals as per the relevant standards laid down by Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) / European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI)/International Electrotechnical Commission(IEC)/Indian Standard, if any.
Digital set top box for direct to home (DTH) services shall comply with Bureau of Indian Standard specification IS-15377 of 2003 or IS-15954 of 2012. Set Top Box for cable services shall comply to Bureau of Indian Standard, IS-15245 of 2002 or IS-16128 of 2013.
Every distributor of TV channels must ensure the same quality of signal for every channel after encoding and placed in a genre to ensure similar reception quality to subscribers.
The Authority may appoint any agency to conduct technical audit of the systems of broadcasters and distributors of TV channels to assess the quality of signals at the headend of the distributor of TV channels and the quality of signals provided by the distributor of TV channels to local cable operators.
Manual of Practice. Every distributor of TV channels or local cable operator shall publish a Manual of Practice, which shall contain information in accordance with Schedule IV to these regulations. A copy of the Manual of Practice shall be provided by distributor to each subscriber at the time of providing connection to the subscriber. The Manual of practice will also be published on the website of the distributor. The Manual of Practice can be in Hindi or in English or in regional languages as required by the subscribers.
Display of channels in EPG. Every distributor of TV channels shall list all channels available on its platform in the electronic programme guide in the respective genres along with applicable a-la-carte prices. MRP of pay channels declared by the distributor will also be displayed in the EPG and free to air channels such prices shall will indicated as zero.
Appointment of compliance officer. Every distributor of TV channels having a subscriber base of more than 2 Lakh shall, within thirty days from the date of commencement of these regulations, appoint a compliance officer whose details will be reported to the TRAI. The compliance officer shall be responsible for ensuring conformity with the provisions of these regulations and report to the Authority with respect to compliance with these regulations and other directions of the Authority issued under these regulations.