Kolkata cable operators seek extension of Aug 23 deadline

Kolkata, Aug 19 : As the deadline of Aug 23 set by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for the submission of consumer application forms (CAFs) in Kolkata nears, cable operators Monday said meeting the target was next to impossible.

The measure had not been properly publicised, operators said, saying people were not made aware of the need to fill CAFs, with details like choice of channels and the packages that subscribers would want to have.

There is need for timely advertising to make people aware of the need for the forms, the operators said.

The operators themselves are required to furnish details like the number of set-top boxes sold, and rates of channels.

TRAI set an Aug 23 deadline for Kolkata subscribers for the submission of the forms.

Operators say they are having a "hard time convincing subscribers about the need to fill up the form", and with the deadline just a few days away. Now, many operators claim the deadline would be hard to meet.

"It is a tough job to get the consumers to fill the forms in August. The whole thing should have been started with a target of three to four years," S. Pal of Linkman Services, one of the major players, told IANS.

"Some of the forms we have got back are not filled properly... others have refused to fill them... those in semi-urban to rural areas ask a lot of questions about the necessity to do so. Greater consumer awareness is needed to implement the CAF scheme successfully," Pal said.

Bibhas Nag of Sristi Cable pointed to the lack of advertising on the part of TRAI and the central government to popularise the CAF.

"Most have no idea... they should have at least started an ad campaign... let the consumers know. Now the situation is such that they have so many queries about CAF... this has led to confusion. Some have simply ignored it," Nag explained.

Pal adds that the step should have been in consultation with operators.

"Many MSOs (multi-system operators) have not even started the process," Pal said.

TRAI estimates that there are more than 28 lakh cable TV viewers (based on the number of set-top boxes sold) in Kolkata that are serviced by nearly 5,000 local cable operators and 14 MSOs.

--IANS (Posted on 19-08-2013)

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