New Delhi: All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF), an industry body of major multi-system operators, Monday told the Kerala High Court that the blocking of signals or feed to them by three broadcasters – Disney Star, Sony and Zee – led to around 5 crore consumers suffering a blackout on their TVs during the last weekend.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for AIDCF, told this before Justice Shaji P Chaly.
On the other hand, broadcasters’ body Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) on Sunday claimed that less than 2.5 crore homes are affected by the switching off the channels to the select DPOs who have not complied with the provisions of the amended new tariff order notified by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
The figures quoted by AIDCF is almost double than the numbers claimed by IBDF and this brings to an important question – why is there such a huge difference?
The reported data of cable subscribers in India
The ‘current members’ as per the AIDCF website are Siti Cable and its JV ICNCL, Hathway, Den, GTPL, Kerala Communicators Cable, Incable owned by NXT digital of Hinduja Group, Fastway Transmissions, Asianet Digital and UCN Cable.
Out of 10 members, Siti Cable has already complied with NTO 3.0. Perhaps, this was the reason Siti and its JV ICNCL were not named in the press release issued by AIDCF on Sunday. However, Siti was mentioned as a member of the federation in the writ petition filed in the Kerala High Court.
Also read: Star, Zee, Sony चैनल्स क्यों हुए केबल टीवी से गायब? कौन है इसके पीछे?
There were only eight operators named in the AIDCF press release.
According to the reported data available on the TRAI website, the eight AIDCF members who have not complied with the provisions of NTO 3.0, had 2.8 crore subscribers in Jul-Sep 2022 quarter.
TRAI report included the number of subscribers for a network with more than 10 lakh subscribers.
The latest reported data of cable subscribers of AIDCF members:
|GTPL Hathway Ltd||84,73,832|
|Hathway Digital Ltd||55,71,761|
|Den Networks Ltd||42,89,919|
|Kerala Communicators Cable Ltd||31,29,712|
|NXT Digital Ltd (HITS)||23,56,744|
|NXT Digital Ltd (Cable TV)||13,15,446|
|Fastway Transmissions Pvt Ltd||19,04,855|
|Asianet Digital Network Pvt. Ltd||10,92,369|
Why is AIDCF quoting 4.8 crore, or roughly 5 crore, subscribers in Kerala High Court?
There could be two possible scenarios.
On the face of it, AIDCF appears to be exaggerating the number of subscribers it actually has, which may be tantamount to misleading the court.
If AIDCF is not misleading the court, the second scenario could be the underreporting of subscriptions by the cable networks to the regulator.
It is a known fact that the cable operators have been evasive of regular audits conducted by the auditors appointed by the regulator and this is why there is so much gap between the actual and claimed numbers.
This also means that from the reported numbers of 13 crore pay TV homes, which include DTH and cable homes, about 20% of homes are not receiving signals from the top three broadcasters where as cable and DTH operators reaching 80% of homes are complying with the provisions of NTO 3.0.