Cable Operators Curbed
21 July, 2011
Cable Operators Curbed

Subscribers to Georgian TV cable operators feel discriminated and appeal to Georgian communication regulatory body to solve the issue. Regulatory body paid heed to the request and promised to take measures to end the cable operators’ nonchalance.

Have you ever snuggled up in front of the TV set to enjoy your favorite BBC channel, for example, and found out a fashion or wild nature show going on instead? No clicking of remote control panel brings desirable result; sometimes the more keys

you press the worse surprises pop up, making you shout, “Man, what’s up?!” Have it ever happened to you? If not you certainly are the lucky inhabitant of the country where the law cuts down possibility of such surprises to zero.

But here in Georgia this is an usual practice of cable operators and familiar discomfort of TV audience which depends on caprices of cable operators.

As a matter of fact the upset consumer should contact its contracted cable operator and demand explanation or compensation of loss for violated contract terms and disturbed nerves, but company offices are out of coverage area as a rule  – the phone is a stone-mute all day long. If one ventures a trip to the office address indicated in the contract another disappointment looms in prospect - no office is supposed to be found out on the address. And the voice of consumers remains as the crying in the wilderness.

However Georgian National Communication Commission (GNCC) responsible for authorization and supervision of cable operators operation at the market heed an ear to the outcry of cable subscribers infesting the regulatory body by complaints lately and decided to put end to the outrageous activity of cable operators an.

According to GNCC, there are more than hundred cable operators in Georgia that provide consumer with different service packages for different prices. But the key grievance of all consumers is frequent change of broadcasting channels and cut out without preliminary warning.

According to Georgian law, any company willing to operate as a transit cable operator can get authorization at GNCC without any payment. But afterward the applicant company must acquire all due licenses and permits on the channels that supposed to be retransmited. The cable operator is also obliged to provide subscribers by service based on the contract and must provide them with all due information on their service. No extra requirements are imposed on cable operators. However the contracts do not include even reliable contact information as practice shows. Why does consumer opt for such suspicious company when there are about hundred other market players? The point is that the market is strictly redistributed among market players and each has its granted lot to canvass subscribers. Besides almost all of them make similar violations and consumer has no choice in fact.

Based on monitoring of GNCC the reason of frequent channel changes is that cable operators do not acquire all due legal papers permitting the broadcasting of certain channels.

As a result, cable operators violate obligations assumed by Georgia on protection of copyrights in frames of Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, [Georgia joined this convention in 1994], agreement with the World Intellectual Property Organization on Copyright Protection [ratified by Georgian parliament in 2001], and  Rome International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations [ratified by Georgian parliament in 2004]. Georgia is responsible to implement all due measures to insure protection of assumed obligations.

To curb the freaky cable operators and meet obligations assumed against the international treaties GNCC is to change Regalement on Protection Consumers Rights soon. According to upcoming changes, all cable operators will have a strong obligation to open up web-pages exposing the full set of service packages as well as comprehensive information on all available broadcasted channels and the full range of price-lists.

Moreover, cable operators will be required to inform subscribers on upcoming channel changes by 10 weekdays earlier the channel is cut out.

According to GNCC, these changes enable consumers to get aware of the available services beforehand and have a choice based on price and channel number. In its turn, GNCC pledges to make protection of consumers rights easier.

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