Cable TV fanatics across the district could be met with blankscreens for no fault of theirs, but because their cable operators have turned a deaf ear to the orders issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
The authority plans to gather data of the number of cable connections in the district in a bid to stop distribution of connections illegally, and has ordered operators to disclose 80 per cent of their total connections, but allowed 20 per cent connections as their profit.
There are 44 Multiple System Operators (MSOs) in the district, under whom 1,051 smaller cable operators work and provide cable network to their respective subscribers.
Despite the leeway, the 1,051 cable operators in the district have failed to comply. The Entertainment Duty (ED) department has now sought strict action against the cable operators by sealing their connections.
The information was to be furnished to the ED department, as March 31 is the last date for operators in the district to install set-top boxes. As the set-top boxes will have unique identification numbers, the ED department plans to match these numbers with those entered on property tax receipts of customers. The entire exercise is to curb distribution of illegal cable connections.
According to the MSOs in the district, the process of collating the required data is tedious. ED department chief Geetanjali Shirke said she had conducted as many as 10 meetings with MSOs asking them to provide lists of properties where they are providing cable services.
“Our requirement is very simple. We have provided MSOs a list of the various properties in the district, and they just have to tick off the addresses they are feeding. However, it has been two months since they were ordered to fulfil the requirement. So far, none of the cable operators have disclosed details of connections they are currently providing in the district,” Shirke said.
She added that the department has to take the strict action of sealing the cable connections in order to speed up the process.
Sources in the ED department, however, said that it is obvious that they would not give the information, as most of the cable operators in the district themselves have illegal connections.
Manager of ICC cable network, Zaka Shaikh, said that his employees are working on the matter, but as it is a tedious process, they have asked for more time.
“We have a large number of customers, so we require more time to complete this procedure. Besides, we have already provided our customer list to the ED department, but it’s almost impossible to provide the list of properties which have our cable connections,” Shaikh said.
Meanwhile, manager of NextGen cable network, Rajesh Chakankar, said that the firm has already told its operators to make such a list available for disclosure, but they are delaying the process.
Presently, 2.25 lakh registered cable connections exist in the district, while 8.72 lakh customers have DTH connections.