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Tata Sky sued for misleading subscribers. Amount could be 1650 Crores.

Tata Sky sued for misleading subscribers. Amount could be 1650 Crores.

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Published by bhavkang
This is an analysis of the petition filed by Adhikaar in TDSAT on Tata Sky’s policies and on the arguments held in the matter in TDSAT
This is an analysis of the petition filed by Adhikaar in TDSAT on Tata Sky’s policies and on the arguments held in the matter in TDSAT

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Published by: bhavkang on Oct 10, 2013
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10/27/2013

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Tata Sky sued for misleading consumers.
Adhikaar- the rights path, an NGO which stands for Consumer rights has sued Tata skyfor misrepresentation in a petition filed with TDSAT today. It has alleged that Tata Skyusing its yearly packages represents to the consumers to provide services (Channels) for the whole period even though it does not have the legal right to do so since most of theAgreements with broadcasters come to an end due to efflux of time and this position isconcealed by them. Also, it is represented to the consumers that during the duration of theyearly/half yearly packs any new channel whether SD or HD will be given free of cost but in the present case the STAR World Premiere HD has been introduced at a monthlyrent of Rs 60 under the p
retext of starting new service under the so called “Specials”
category and stating that they do not fall under those channels that are provided free of cost to subscribers having packs for which advance payments have been made by them.The Annual Rental schemes of Tata Sky promises consumers uninterrupted access tochannels for the whole year against a prepaid advanced fee of Rs 5500 even thoughthey do not have valid arrangements with broadcasters for the same period.If Tata Sky and the broadcaster fail to renew the arrangement, the channel goes off air depriving consumers of the channels that were promised to them at the time of subscription.Due to the act of Tata Sky, the consumers will be left with no option but to change their service provider in order to receive his preferred channels and hence will have to pay anadditional Rs 4000 for a Set Top box and rentals since the said set top boxes do not havethe option of interoperability.Assuming there are 3 million subscribers who subscribe to an annual plan, Tata Sky hascollected advance payment to the tune of Rs 1650 Crores misrepresenting to theconsumers on the availability of channels through their subscription period.This could well be the tip of the iceberg, with more channels failing to renew agreementswith Tata Sky and the service provider getting the channels off air ensuring a completeloss to the consumers by unilaterally deactivating the said channels from its platform.The latest case being NEO Sports and NEO Prime being deactivated from 12
th
October 2013.A subscriber chooses a service provider based on its services i.e. Channels in the case of a DTH operator and not vice versa. Promising and not providing a channel results incustomer injustice and tantamounts to cheating. Tata Sky thus misrepresents to theconsumer its arrangements with broadcasters at the time of subscription. In the case of niche channels like Sports Channels which are event based and which do not have a truesubstitute it is actually forcing the consumers to either miss their events or change theservice provider. Not having a channel makes the service useless and the money paid iswasted
 
 If the service provider relies on the clause that they are free to change the channels andgive discount, it will lead to huge disservice to the consumers and thereby benefiting theService provider by showing channels
other than the one’s which
the consumers hadchosen at the time of subscribing to it and then quickly replacing them with cheap onesAs per Regulations of TRAI pertaining to the Direct to Home Broadcasting Services(Standards of Quality of Services and Redressal of Grievances) (Amended) Regulations,2009Regulation 9A clearly states
“No change in composition of a subscription package d
uring first six months of enrolment or during the period of validity of subscription paid
in advance”
 If the service provider is choosing to shut down/ remove a channel then they must
 
Ensure that channels are provided for the period of service the consumer hassubscribed
 
Return to subscribers the entire money for the STB & other installations chargesfor the consumer to buy a new service to see the channel of their choice and not penalize the consumer for the fault/ action of the service provider. Or else for every channel that he watches which is worth Rs 40/ per month, if it is removed by the service provider, the consumers will have to buy STB/ installations cost for an amount of Rs 4000/ to watch his channel worth Rs 40/-.Consumers cannot be penalized for choosing a service provider, who promised wronglyto show the channels of consumers choice till the period of the serviceIn this case, service provider cannot change the packs for minimum 6 months asstipulated, since the decision to not take the channel is also theirs and the broadcaster hasnot deprived them of the content. The original idea of the regulator for such cap was to
ensure that the operator doesn’t abuse its power to the detriment of its customers. So what
good is the 6 months lock in, if the service provider bring out the packs and also changesit at its own discretionClause (2) R. 9 A further states that
“If any particular channel included in a subsc
ription package which has been subscribedto by a Direct to home subscriber subsequently becomes unavailable on the direct tohome service of the Direct to home operator on its platform, the Direct to Home Operator 
 
shall reduce the subscription charges for such subscription package on a proportionate basis from the date of disconnection of the channel from the Direct to home service of theDirect to home operator till the expiry of a period of six months from the date of enrolment of that subscriber, or till the expiry of the contracted period of subscription for which the amount of 
subscription has been paid in advance…
 Provided that, instead of proportionate reducing the subscription charges for suchsubscription package on account of non-availability of such channels, the direct to homeoperator may at its discretion, introduce in such subscription package another channel of 
the same genre and language as the channel..”
 TATA Sky is clearly using the above clause in its favour, a consumer who opts for asports channel just because of a particular match that is shown on its channel, investshuge amount on the set top box and if he is refunded only with a deducted amount for theremaining period, the consumer would certainly be in a loss as he will not be able towatch his matches and secondly if he opts for another DTH provider he will again have toinvest a usage amount for the set top box and thereafter for the subscription amount.Further, Tata Sky is also in violation of Regulation 9B as under the said Regulations theDTH Operator has to give a 15 day prior notice before changing the composition of any package. No such notice has been given in the present case by Tata Sky even thoughw.e.f. 12.10.2013 it is going to discontinue the signals Neo Channels.The prayer sought vide the petition is:A.
 
Pass an order of permanent injunction against Tata Sky from discontinuing thedistribution of Neo channels on its DTH Platform during the tenure of the variousMega Packs ;B.
 
Pass an Order of mandatory injunction directing Tata Sky to provide the Star World Premiere HD channel to its Mega package subscribers free of cost;C.
 
Direct Tata Sky to refund the entire amount for set top box and installationcharges to consumers who do not want to avail the services of the Opposite Partyalongwith the proportionate amount that the consumers may have paid in advancetowards any package of the Opposite Party within seven (7) days by way of cheque;D.
 
Direct Tata Sky to pay a certain sum to the Complainant as damages.To read the complete petition visithttp://www.scribd.com/doc/175043462

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sunsparx added this note
sudden withdrawal of 2 premium fav sports channels without prior intimation is unacceptable and a big let down after having tracked your fav sport events with much micro-planning to view the event after forsaking so many of lives conflicting requirements, sit down to find that the channel is just not there. To make matters worse they lie when approached, stating that they have sent email and SMS.
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