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DTH operators to give 15-day notice for removing channels from package
Users can suspend connections for up to 3 full months.

The dropped channel, whether free-to-air or paid, will be valued at package charge divided by number of channels.

New Delhi, March 13 Direct-to-Home (DTH) operators will now be obliged to give a 15-day notice before removing any channel from a package. They would have to replace the channel with a similar one, alternatively offer a reduction in the package charges accordingly.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a regulation amending the ‘Quality of Service and Redressal of Grievances Regulations for DTH Services’.

TRAI has recommended that DTH operators not charge any fee for visiting or repair during the period of warranty for equipment acquired on outright purchase basis. DTH subscribers can now request for a suspension of their connections for up to three full months, starting from the first of the month.

The DTH operators cannot change the composition of their packages for the first six months service to a new subscriber or while the pre-paid package is still valid, depending on which is longer.

According to TRAI, DTH operators were offering annual or fixed period subscription contracts and it was necessary to protect the interest of those who had subscribed to these. The dropped channel, whether free-to-air or paid, will be valued at package charge divided by number of channels.

In its statement, the regulator said that it had received large number complaints from subscribers regarding dropping of channels from DTH packages.

In the past, when ETC Punjabi which telecasts Gurbani in the mornings had been dropped by an operator, TRAI had been flooded with complaints. More recently, the sports channel ESPN had been shifted out from Tata Sky’s basic bouquet and offered as an add-on channel that would be charged separately. That had not gone down well with all consumers or the broadcaster ESPN.

Quality of service

During the consultation process, broadcasters and DTH operators had wanted TRAI to impose a minimum subscription period for any channel or package.

The quality of service norms for Conditional Access System (CAS) prescribe a minimum four month subscription of channel or package.

However, TRAI has found no need for its implementation in DTH as of now.

The quality of service regulations for DTH were issued in 2007 when only Dish TV, Tata Sky and DD Direct were operational. DTH subscribers now stand at 11 million, according to TRAI.

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