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Now, pick 'n' choose your channels
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Mumbai: The Supreme Court of India, in a recent order, has permitted people, who subscribe to Cable TV and Condition Access System (CAS), the right to select channels of their own choice.

The order was passed in an appeal filed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) against the earlier award of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal's (TDSAT) allowing channel operators the option of selling their products in various combos.

Statistics say that over 95% of TV owners in India use cable TV. While individual channels like Star Plus or Zee Cinema are available for Rs5 each, the packages offered by channels often cost as much as Rs50 per combination.

The channels used these combos to dump their less-popular channels on viewers.

All this will change with the Supreme Court upholding the TRAI's previous order.

The availability of a la carte menu for TV channels is a pro-consumer and economically better model than the forcible administration of a bitter dose to the consumer who should be allowed to purchase only what he or she wants to use.

However, the court's order is silent on the Direct to Home (DTH) services. A large number of households, particularly in rural India, find the DTH service far simpler and economical to operate due to the absence of long cables and the maintenance that goes with it.

DTH operators still persist in the sale of 'bouquets' of channels, making it impossible for the viewer to select the channel of his choice unlike his cable counterpart. Will industry and TRAI self-regulate this issue or will it need another court order to set things right?

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