Cable TV subscribers’ challenges insistence on set-top boxes

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The Cable TV subscribers challenged against insisting that they should purchase set-top boxes to avail continued service, in the form of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) at the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad. Responding to the PIL, the High Court has directed the Union Government and also governments of two Telugu states to file their replies.

In his PIL, the general secretary of the Citizen Welfare Society in Hyderabad, complained that the Cable Operators were being threatened that they shall not carry on the existing analogue form of transmission from February, 2017.

A division bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Shameem Akhter, gave this direction while hearing the PIL. Senior counsel Ramchander Rao, appearing for the petitioner society, said that the dates for implementation of the DAS Transmission had been extended from time to time and the Cable Television Networks (Regulations), Act 1995 does not prohibit the present analogue system from continuing.

However, making it clear that the petitioner society is not opposing the new digital system, he said they only want continuation of the existing analogue system as it is a citizen-friendly system which costs much less whereas a set-up box itself costs more than Rs.2000. He sought interim order staying the implementation of Phase-III DAS Transmission as it is scheduled to come into force from February, 2017. The bench questioned the petitioner’s counsel for the delay in approaching the court as the roll-out of Phase III is almost near.

Asst. Solicitor General of India Narayana Reddy and counsels for both the states sought time to get instructions and the bench accordingly adjourned the matter to next week, while directing the respondents to make clear whether the cable operators can operate both the DAS & Analogue Systems simultaneously and further the scope of 4(a) of Cable Television Networks (Regulations), Act 1995.

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