Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems

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1 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems (DAS) 1. What is Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems (DAS)? DAS is a cable TV service in which TV channels are sent through cable TV network in digital and encrypted form. Only authorised users can receive channels using a Set-Top-Box(STB) and TV set. The authorization is given by the service provider. This system is able to carry large number of TV channels, radio services and other value added services. In this system the consumers can choose channels/ services of their choice and pay only for the same. 2. Who are the service providers in DAS? The Multi-System Operator (MSO) and its linked local cable operators (LCOs) are the service providers in DAS (hereinafter referred as cable operators). 3. How DAS is different from the existing cable TV system? The existing cable TV system is predominately analog in nature. In case of analog cable TV system, the TV channels are sent in analog and unencrypted form. The analog cable TV system can carry up to TV channels. In this system the consumers do not have an option to choose channels/services of their choice and pay accordingly, rather they have to pay for the entire bouquet of channels offered by the cable operator. On the other hand, the capacity of a DAS is much higher than the existing analog cable TV system. A consumer under DAS will be able to choose channels/services of his choice and pay accordingly. A Set-Top-Box (STB) is required along with the TV set for receiving the channels in DAS. 4. How DAS is different from Cable TV service in CAS notified area? DAS is a fully digital addressable system whereas CAS is not. In CAS notified area, the free-to-air (FTA) channels are carried over the network in analog form while the pay channels are carried in encrypted and digitally modulated form for which a STB is required. While in DAS all the channels (pay as well as FTA) carried over the network are encrypted and digitally modulated and a STB is required for receiving both FTA and pay channels. 5. How DAS is different from DTH service? Although both are digital addressable systems, in DTH service, TV channels are directly received by consumer from satellite using small dish antennas located at 1

2 customer premise. However, in DAS TV signals reach consumer through the cable network. The DAS is capable of carrying interactive value added service, triple play services (Video + Audio +Data), broadband etc. through the same cable TV network. 6. Is it compulsory for the consumer to take the services of DAS? Or, he can continue with the existing analog Cable TV service? The Government has notified that it is obligatory for every cable operator to transmit or re-transmit programmes of any channel in an encrypted form through a digital addressable system in the entire country, in 4 phases as per the schedule given below:- Phase I - 31th Oct 2012: National Capital Territory of Delhi, Municipal Council of Greater Mumbai area, Kolkata Metropolitan area and Chennai Metropolitan area ; Phase II - 31st March 2013: 38 Cities with a population of more than one million; Phase III - 30th September 2014: All other urban areas (Municipal Corp./ Municipalities) except cities/ towns/ areas specified for the corresponding Phase I and Phase-II above, and Phase IV- 31st December 2014: Rest of India. After complete switchover, the cable TV services will be available only through digital addressable Systems. 7. What are the advantages of DAS for the consumers? The DAS offers following benefits to the consumer. Consumer will get better signal quality for all the channels. Consumer will get more choice of channels. DAS supports HD and 3D channels. Consumers can choose the channels on a-la-carte (individual) basis and pay only for the channels chosen. DAS can offer value added services such as triple play with broadband, movie on demand etc. Electronic programme guide (EPG) can be provided in DAS which makes it easy for the consumer to select a particular channel or service in simple user friendly manner. These features, amongst the others provide a much improved viewing experience to the consumers. 2

3 8. What is to be done for availing the services in DAS? What changes will be required at consumer s end? For getting the services in DAS an additional piece of equipment called Set-Top Box (STB) is required along with TV set. This set top box will facilitate the consumer to access the encrypted digital television signal carried over DAS. 9. What are mandatory channels in DAS? It shall be mandatory for cable operators to transmit or retransmit the channels of Doordarshan required to be transmitted compulsorily under section 8 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 (7 of 1995),as amended from time to time, to each subscriber on its network. Currently, the channels viz. DD-1, DD-News, DD- Regional (concerned region), DD-Rajya Sabha DD-Sports, DD-Urdu, Gyandarshan and Lok-Sabha are required to be transmitted compulsorily to each subscriber on its network. 10. Can I have both DTH and DAS? DTH and DAS are two independent different platforms. The consumer have option to avail both the services at his option. Set Top Box 11. What is set top box (STB)? Set top box (STB) is a device, which is connected to a television set at the consumer premises and which allows a consumer to view encrypted channels of his choice. The basic function of the set top box is to decrypt the channels and to convert the digital signals into analog mode for viewing on television sets. A smart card or viewing card is a part of set top box which allow only those channels to be viewed which are subscribed by the consumer and authorised by the service provider. 12. Is it mandatory for the consumers to have a STB? Can I get cable television service in DAS, without a STB? The TV channels carried in DAS cannot be received without STB. The STB can be stand-alone unit or TV sets can have STB functions integrated into it. 13. How to acquire STB? STB is generally provided by the cable operator. 14. What are the schemes for acquiring STBs? 3

4 The Cable Operator must offer the STB on outright purchase, rental and hire-purchase. The Cable Operator must offer all the three schemes. The consumer is free to choose any scheme as per his requirement. 15. What are the terms and conditions for return of STB? The cable operator should prescribe the terms and conditions for return of STB, at the time of subscription of the service, acquired under outright purchase, rental and hire-purchase schemes at the time of subscription. The following are the rules regarding return of STB:- The cable operator should refund the security deposit(if any), after adjusting the dues, if any. In the case of the consumer shifting his premises within the service area of cable operator, he shall be given a transfer voucher for provisioning of a new STB on the same terms and conditions at the new address. If the consumer is not satisfied with the services provided by the cable operator, the consumer shall be free to opt out and the cable operator shall allow the consumer to surrender the STB after making deductions in accordance with the conditions specified to the consumer at the time of purchasing of the STB, however such deductions shall not exceed 25% for each half year or part of it. Example: If a STB price was Rs at the time of purchase. And the consumers returns the STB after 1 year but before 1.5 years then the amount deducted cannot exceed Rs. 1500/ Can I use the STB for receiving the service of the other cable operator? The STB provided by one cable operator may not be compatible with the system of the other cable operator. Therefore, it may not be always possible to use the same STB for availing the service of the other cable operator. 17. Can I use the STB for receiving the signal of DTH operator? The STB used for DAS cannot be used for DTH service as technologies are different. 18. What if my STB goes faulty? 4

5 The cable operator must give a minimum warranty of one year on Set Top Box acquired by a consumer on outright purchase basis and consumer is not required to pay any charge towards repair and maintenance of the Set Top Box during the period of warranty, including visiting charges of the person deputed by the operator for repair or maintenance. In case of STB acquired under hire purchase scheme or on rental scheme the consumer is not required to pay any charge towards repair and maintenance of the Set Top Box during the period of hire purchase or rental. 19. What if a consumer has more than one TV set in his/her home? Whether he/she needs separate STB for each TV set? In case a consumer has more than one television set in his home, he needs to get separate set top box for each television set. 20. Do I require a particular type of television set for DAS? No, the consumers can use the same TV set which they have been using for reception of Analog Cable TV. However as mentioned earlier, a STB is required to be connected with the TV set for reception of channels in DAS. Retail Tariff in DAS: 21. What do you mean by a-la-carte offering of channels and bouquet of channels? A-la-carte offering of TV channels means offering the channel individually on standalone basis. Bouquet of channels means an assortment of distinct channels, offered together as a group or as a bundle. 22. What is the monthly charge, a consumer has to pay for availing the package/ bouquet/ channels/services in DAS? The monthly charge depends upon the package/ bouquet/ channels/services chosen by the consumer. The consumers of DAS can choose package, bouquet, one or more pay channel, only FTA channels, only pay channels, pay channels and FTA channels offered by the cable operator. If the consumer opts for one or more FTA channels without Pay channels, the operator can prescribe a minimum monthly subscription, not exceeding Rs. 100/- per connection per month ( excluding taxes). Further, if the consumer opts for one 5

6 or more pay channels, with or without FTA channels- the operator can prescribe a minimum monthly subscription, not exceeding Rs. 150/- per connection per month (excluding Taxes). 23. What is a basic service tier (BST). Is it compulsory to choose the BST offered by cable operator? In DAS, cable operator has to compulsorily offer a package of 100 free-to-air (FTA) channels, called Basic Service Tier(BST) at a MRP of Rs. 100/-(exclusive of taxes) per month per connection. The consumer can also choose any combination of free to air channels up to 100 channels, in lieu of the basic service tier offered by the multi-system operator at a MRP of Rs. 100/-(exclusive of taxes). While Cable operator has to offer the Basic Service Tier, it is not obligatory for consumer to subscribe to the BST 24. What is the composition of basic service tier (BST)? In DAS, the BST must consists at least 5 channels of each genre namely news and current affairs, infotainment, sports, kids, music, lifestyle, movies and general entertainment in Hindi, English and regional language of the region. In case sufficient number of free to air channels of a particular genre is not available, the multi-system operator shall include in the basic service tier the channels of other genres. Doordarshan channels, namely DD-Bharati, DD- Malyalam, DD-Podhigai, DD-Odiya, DD-Bangla, DD-Saptagiri, DD-Chandana, DD-Sahyadri, DD-Girnar, DD-Kashir, DD-NE, DD-Punjabi shall also form part of BST 25. Who fixes the a-la-carte channel rates and bouquet rates at the retail level in DAS? The a-la-carte channel rates and bouquet rates are to be decided by the MSO. 26. Can a consumer choose individual channels. What will be the rate of channels on individual basis in DAS? It is mandatory that the cable operators must offer all channels of the platform on a-la-carte basis. The a-la-carte rate of the FTA channels shall be uniform. 6

7 However, the cable operator can fix the a-la-carte (individual) rate of pay channels. Further, the a-la-carte retail rate of channels, which forms part of one or more bouquets, shall be governed by the following conditions: a. The sum of the a-la-carte rates of channels in any bouquet, shall not to be more than 1.5 times the rate of the bouquet. b. The a-la-carte rates shall not to exceed 3 times the average channel rate of each bouquet. Example: If the bouquet consist of 10 channels and is priced at Rs. 50 and a channel say XYZ is a part of the bouquet then the a-la-carte rate of channel XYZ shall not exceed Rs. 15. The sum of a-la-carte rate of all 10 channels of the bouquet, should not be more than Rs What is Free-to-air (FTA) channel? Free-to Air (FTA) channel means a channel for which no subscription fee is to be paid by the MSO to the broadcaster for its re-transmission on cable. However the operator may prescribe subscription charges for such channels to be paid by the consumers for reception of such channels. 28. What is a pay channel? Pay channel means a channel for which subscription fee is to be paid to the broadcaster by the MSO operator and due authorization needs to be taken from the broadcaster for its re-transmission on cable. 29. Can I get pay channels in BST? No. BST consists of only FTA channels. 30. Can I get both FTA channels and pay channels on a-la-carte basis? In DAS, all channels (pay and free-to air) to be offered on a-la-carte basis to consumers. 31. Is there minimum subscription period which a cable operator can prescribe for subscription of a channel on a-la-carte basis? If a consumer subscribes a channel on a-la-carte basis then the cable operator can prescribe a minimum subscription period which shall not exceed 3 months. 7

8 Billing: 32. What are the mode of payment of subscription charges in DAS? The cable operator should offer the cable services in DAS on both pre-paid and post paid models. It will be up to the subscriber to choose the model of subscription. 33. What is the frequency of billing for post paid subscribers? The subscriber shall be billed, generally on monthly basis and the bill shall contain the Service Tax Registration Number and the Entertainment Tax Registration number of the multi-system operator. 34. Can a consumer ask for information relating to the itemized usage charges showing actual usage of service? In case of pre-paid consumer can ask for information relating to the itemized usage charges showing actual usage of service, by paying reasonable cost to the operator as determined by the cable operator for such details. Consumer Complaint Redressal & Quality of Service: 35. What is the mechanism for redressal of consumer complaints in DAS? Every cable operator should establish a complaint centre where the service related complaints and service requests can be placed by the consumer. The consumer care number must be toll free and the cable operator should provide a docket no. for each complaint. Besides Cable operator must have web based complaint monitoring system where the consumers can place their request and monitor the status of their complaint. In case consumer is not satisfied with the redressal of his complaints through complaint Centre, he can approach the nodal officer of the operator. There must be one or more nodal officers in every state in which the cable operator is providing the service. 36. What are time limits for resolution of complaints of the subscribers? 8

9 The consumer complaints to be responded within 8 hours The time limit for redressing the complaints by the call center and nodal officers have been given in the Quality of service Regulations for DAS. These Regulations are available on the TRAI website The extract of these regulations with regard to time limits for complaint redressal are as under: The time limit for redressal are All complaints shall be responded to within eight hours of receipt of the complaint. However, complaints received during the night shall be attended by the next day. No complaint shall remain unresolved beyond 3 days. Complaints related to billing should be redressed within 7 days. Complaints made to the nodal officer should be redressed in 10 days. In case the complaints are not resolved, the cable operator should mention the reason. 37. What are the rights of the consumer? The consumer can ask for the details of the schemes offered by the cable operator and ask the cable operator for terms and conditions of subscription and STB. The consumer has right to ask for channels on a-la-carte basis. The consumer can ask for receipt for the payment made by him. The consumer can ask for the details of his bill under pre-paid subscription by paying a reasonable amount fixed by the cable operator Consumer can suspend his cable service for a period 1 month to three months, giving 15 days notice in advance. The consumer is not required to pay subscription charge except rental for STB(if any) The consumer can ask for Manual of Practice at the time of subscription. Consumer has a right to seek the redressal under the consumer protection Act 1986 or any other law for the time being enforced. 38. What are the obligations for consumer? The subscriber should give prior notice for disconnection of the service. The consumer should protect and safeguard the property of the cable operator placed at the premises of the subscriber. The consumer should not indulge in piracy of signals. 9

10 39. Can a cable operator discontinue exhibition of channel without giving prior notice? No, Cable operator cannot discontinue exhibition of any channel without giving prior notice of fifteen days to its subscribers and such notice shall be published in the local news paper and displayed through scrolls on TV screen. 40. Can a cable operator change the composition of subscription package subscribed by consumer? The cable operator cannot change the composition of subscription package, subscribed by the consumer, during first six month of subscription or during the entire period if subscription amount has been paid in advance. However, if the channels are not available in the platform of the cable operator then, the cable operator shall reduce the subscription charges payable by the consumer by an amount equivalent to the a-la-carte rate of such channel from the date of discontinuance of the channel. The cable operator may offer an alternative channel of the genre and language of the channel discontinued and, if the offer is accepted by the subscriber, the cable operator may not reduce the subscription charges for the channel which is not available on its network. Regulatory Framework for DAS: 41. What is the regulatory framework prescribed by TRAI for DAS? TRAI has laid down the comprehensive regulatory framework for the DAS. The regulations/tariff Order issued are as under: a. The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Fourth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order, 2010 as amended on 30th April, Applicable for All Addressable Systems including DAS. b. The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Digital Addressable Cable Television Systems) Regulations, 2012 as amended on 14th May, c. Standards of Quality of Service (Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems) Regulations, 2012 d. Consumers Complaint Redressal (Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems) Regulations, 2012 These Regulations are available on TRAI website 10

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