Cable guys in a fix as payments start drying up amid lockdown
With door-to-door method of collecting payments impossible, operators ask TV networks to provide a few months' credit
The Maharashtra Cable Operators Federation (MCOF) has requested entertainment networks to not cut services in case of non-payment as they have not been able to collect cable charges from customers amid the lockdown.
Though cable operators have given online payment options, over 50 per cent of their customers still depend on the traditional system of payment where operators visit individual houses to collect money.
The federation, which has over 5,000 members across Maharashtra, has over 1,000 members from Mumbai with around 12 lakh customers.
With the population at home, television has become a major source of entertainment and news consumption. While many have shifted to DTH service for television, there is a huge number of citizens who still subscribe to the traditional cable service.
This is why many cable operators continue to function and provide uninterrupted service with continuous maintenance amid the lockdown.
"Subscription collection from customers has taken a tremendous drop as many societies and colonies have imposed restrictions on people entering. Various cable associations have appealed to TRAI to either adopt post-paid services for April or to issue credit facilities to cable operators.
The AIDCF (All India Digital Cable Federation), the body of MSOs, has decided to keep only the mandatory channels of Door Darshan active for April," read the statement issued by the MCOF.
The federation has also urged people using the traditional practice of payment to change their television preferences for a while as most channels are anyway showing repeat telecast of programs due to the lockdown. This will reduce payment per user and effectively the pending amount. President of MCOF, Arvind Prabhoo, said, "We are operating as cable TV currently remains an essential service. Even though an online payment system is available, half of our customers prefer the traditional mode of payment. Considering the dependable service we have given for all these years, we believe that entertainment networks should allow a few months' credit."
Percentage of customers who prefer paying in cash
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