Bengaluru, Mar 21: The Karnataka government will ensure implementation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s recent order capping the monthly cable television bill for households at Rs 130 for a basic package. Home Minister G Parameshwara made the announcement in the Legislative Council on Monday after members cutting across party lines said cable operators have been fleecing subscribers by charging exorbitantly.
Parameshwara said the government will direct the state and district level committees constituted to monitor implementation of Cable Television Regulation Act to ensure the TRAI order is followed. The government will also come out with new legislation to ensure local cable television operators follow guidelines proposed by TRAI on subscription fees among others.
TRAI on March 3 put a cap to the monthly cable television bill for households at Rs 130 (plus taxes) for the first 100 free-to-air (FTA) channels. Beyond that, the channels can be subscribed in slabs of 25 and an amount of Rs 20 will be charged per slab.
The minister admitted that at present, the state government had no control over the functioning of cable TV operators and the time had come to rein them in. To start with, the government will take steps to ensure that the state and district level committees meet regularly and address consumers’ complaints. The district-level committees are headed by deputy commissioners, while the state level committee is headed by the principal secretary to the Information Department.
Earlier, Puttanna (JD-S) said cable TV operators were charging between Rs 300 and Rs 600 as subscription rates per month. Besides, they forced consumers to buy set-top boxes of their specification at exorbitant rates. He also asked the government to start its own cable and provide connections to people at a lower rate. “You are providing many bhagyas, why not provide cable bhagya,” he said.
H M Revanna (Cong) said operators were charging double the subscription fees in households with two televisions sets. “I have three TVs in my house and I have to shell out Rs 900 per month just for parallel cable connections,” he said. Besides, most of the cable TV businesses are run by rowdy elements, he added.