Cable Operators have been facing problems in the collection of subscription fees since the third week of March as restrictions on isolating oneself has begun. The lockdown had added to their woes. After the MIB permitted Cable TV as an essential service Cable Operators have been able to get their limited staff to attend to network-related issues. With no public transport, staff staying at faraway locations have not been able to attend.
Subscription collection from customers has taken a tremendous drop for cable operators as many Societies and Colonies have imposed restrictions on any entry into their complexes.
“Cable Operators have to make payments to their respective MSOs upfront if they wish to activate any channel/package. Whereas all MSOs get almost 30 to 60 days credit before they make any payment to the Broadcasters,” said MCOF in a statement.
Various Cable Associations have appealed to TRAI, MIB, respective MSOs to either adopt postpaid services for April or to issue credit facilities to cable Operators who are unable to collect. The AIDCF (All India Digital Cable Federation), the body of MSO has decided to keep only the mandatory channels of Doordarshan active for any subscription which is not renewed in April.
DTH players like Tata Sky are offering credit facility to customers who cannot pay online but Cable Operators are not financially strong to fund the MSOs and activate channels, especially when collections have dropped by 30% or more, told MCOF. Hence, with limited resources and no support from MSOs, Cable Associations are advising Cable Operators the following:
Cable Operators should push customers to pay online using NEFT/UPI/Wallets, Credit or Debit cards and activate services for those who have paid.
For those customers who do not pay online, cable operators can downgrade customers to Free To Air Channel (FTA) Packs. Since most viewing is happening on news channels (most of which are FTA channels) and DD providing re-run of its popular serials at no extra cost. Pay Broadcasters have run out of fresh programming and all sporting activities have come to a halt, these can be activated for customers who make payments to Cable Operators.
Cable Operators are free to levy a convenience fee at up to Rs.30 per month from a customer to renew the services without any upfront payment. Customers can opt for this by calling or messaging their respective Cable Networks and confirming their willingness to pay the same.
MCOF has requested customers to stand by their respective Cable Operators as a mark of solidarity by using any online method of convenience to pay their Cable Operators or speak to the Cable Operator and exercise their best option.