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Cable operators protest as 60 lakh TV screens go blank in state

Bengaluru/Mysuru, January 24:- TV screens across Karnataka using a conventional local cable connection as opposed to satellite Direct to Home services went blank in Karnataka, including Bengaluru, today. The blackout which began at 6 am in the morning will continue till 10 pm.

The Karnataka State Cable Television Operators’ Association had announced last week that they would hold a strike protesting against the new tariff policy by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) coming into effect from February 1.

There are currently more than 60 lakh users for conventional locally-operated TV service in the state.

VS Patrick Raju, president of the association, called the decision regressive and said the new tariff fixed by TRAI will prove beneficial neither to the customer nor the cable operators. He alleged the new rules are made only to favour the big players in the market.

He said, “The TRAI has come out with the new regulations without taking operators into consideration. At present, the operators are giving 450 channels for Rs 300 and if the new rules come into place, the subscriber will end up paying Rs 1,500 for the same number of channels as the channel rate ranges from Rs 1 to 19. In addition, a provision has been made to charge 18 per cent. The TRAI regulation is a regressive act and new rules are introduced just to favour big corporate bodies.”

Following a meeting by member cable operators, Raju said that the association will demand an alternate tariff structure including a GST rate cut before the new one comes into force and make sure that these local cable operators are not driven out of business.

In the new fee guidelines, a consumer will have to pay a fixed fee of Rs 130 a month for 100 free-to-air standard definition channels, including 26 mandatory Doordarshan channels. For every other channel, the user has to pay respective prices. However, TRAI claims that consumers will be able to choose their own channels and pay for it, thereby providing them with freedom of choice and direct control.

Similar protests have been held in other parts of the country including neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Telangana.

In support of the strike, Mysuru District Cable TV Operators’ Welfare Association also joined the protest.

President of the association M Mohan Kumar Gowda said that the central government has been warned by the one-day protest.

He said that the new scheme would be a burden on consumers and many people would lose their jobs due to the new regulations of TRAI. (MR/KS)

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