Quality of TV services poor, viewers forced to pay hefty bills

Best Media Info, August 19, 2022

There is growing discontent in terms of the quality of service among TV audience and multiple customers in the country don’t even know how to solve the issues which range from billing, grievance redressal and even packaging, as per TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum (BIF).

Ramachandran said, “There is serious discontent in terms of the quality of service for the viewers. People don’t know how they can solve their grievance issues, billing, packaging issues etc.”

Ramachandran was speaking to BestMediaInfo.com following the release of ‘Effective Consumer Choice key for Indian TV Viewers’ report. The report, which is based on a nationwide survey of over 10,000 TV consumers across the country, was jointly released by BIF and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS International).

Elaborating on the need for conducting the study, Ramachandran said, “The interplay or the bandwidth of this sector is something not many people understand, and with so many developments happening we wanted to see what credible information we can collect for us to understand the sector better to have a dialogue with the regulator. We also wanted to understand what exactly the consumers want.” 

According to the report, 31% of consumers are unaware about the existence of an option for adding or removing TV channels from their subscription packages. It further added that from those who knew about it only 43% found the process to be convenient, while the rest rely on direct intervention from MSOs to add or remove channels. 

The report also states that a large chunk of the audience (70%) thinks that TV offers value for money, but 67% of consumers have said that their average monthly bill for TV channels has increased in the past 1-2 years, i.e., in the time period when the new regulatory framework was put in place by TRAI.

He advised for more ground-level awareness initiatives to be conducted for the benefit of consumers so that they can get the maximum benefits. “There needs to be more awareness among consumers about how they can select (channels) more cost-effectively,” he stated. 

 Sharing a personal anecdote, Ramachandran said, “I am a literate and aware customer and had multiple TV connections. However, suddenly the bills shot up so I called a friend who helped in sorting out the situation, and we also removed some connections. If a consumer like me had to call in experts to help, you can imagine how rampant the situation is at lower levels.” 

Over the past few years, TV viewership has continuously fallen and Pay TV subscribers are falling even more rapidly. The big question that arises is where are these audience migrating to? 

According to the report, there is increased concern among local cable operators about the adverse impact of OTT services on television. The report also mentions that the easy availability of TV content on OTT may also be one of the reasons behind the degrowth. 

Ramachandran stated, “To start with, the government and the regulator must offer a new simple model. The market forces should be allowed to prevail because there is so much competition. We’ve got hundreds of channels, several broadcasters, MSOs, DPOs etc. There is overwhelming room for growth.”

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