Scheming at its peak.

In USA, Cable TV companies are notorious for their shady and shocking hidden charges. However all such practices seemed very minor when compared with Cable services TV in Chennai, India. The scheming that is going on in Chennai was really shocking.

The “SET-TOP-BOX” racket. This is a gadget that scrambles/de-scrambles TV signals. Using this box, cable broadcasters control your subscriptions, a Conditional Access System. Yes the same we find in most homes in the USA. What’s the problem here? In the US the Box is bundled with the deal and charges for box are small and are silently hidden. Subscribers are not asked to pay a huge down payment for this “made in China” gadget. Cable TV companies collect a small amount as rent for these receivers. You will find this some where low down in the monthly bill.

In Chennai, a set top box is required to watch channels like Discovery, CNN, or ESPN etc. Just like any other cable package here too the subscription packages are called Gold, Plastic and Clay etc. The highest package that brings in every satellite beam on the Indian Subcontinent is priced at Rs.205 + Basic Cable [Rs100.] + Tax = Rs.320. There are also sport packages for about Rs.32/Month, but the catch is you got to pay in full for a year. The Sun TV, Moon TV, winner TV Loser TV and other Tamil TV’s fall under Basic Cable that can be received without a Set top Box. If you read between the lines you will find how public is schemed in Chennai Area.

Order in which people are schemed:

Scheming number 1: Subscribers are forced to buy a set top box. Cost - Rs.4500 [about $100]. Cable companies will not rent this for you. They make sure no one else also rents it. There is no place in Chennai where you could rent this box. If you want to watch certain so called premium channels you need to shell out Rs4500 + Subscription + etc.

Scheming number 2: The monthly subscriptions are due on 5th of every month. They don’t mail you a bill. The amount is collected door to door by the cable guy. If the cable guy does not show up for collection, you get to face the consequences of missed payment. The service will be disconnected on 6th without any notice, and it will cost you Rs.200 to resume your service. It is your responsibility to keep track of the Cable guy and his whereabouts. The plight of senior citizens multiplies. Bottom line, Customers are being taken for ride at every given opportunity.

Scheming number 3: These pay channels comes with on the air Advertisements and commercials. Meaning, you pay the nose-bleeding amount not only to watch your favorite program, but you also need to pay and watch Jothika promote Heart-oil, or “Big B” sell milk chocolates. Often during cricket matches, the 6 ball an over rule is reduced to a 5 or 4 ball an over. The broadcasters make sure that viewing pleasure is as horrible as possible. While watching staring Tom Cruise on HBO India, appearance of “Big B via commercials” would be much more than that of Tom Cruise’s in the screen play.

Scheming number 4 : The scheming reaches it heights here, say you travel about 30 miles out of Chennai, close to Chegalpatu, you don’t need a set top box. Everything is available on regular cable. In fact entire India watches TV without this box. Chennai is the only city that has stupid set top boxes. Why? God only knows or may be may be someone interested should have imported these boxes in bulk and now they are trying to push it to the people.

I really don’t know what is the point in having a boasting media in Chennai?. When I was Chennai I saw a leading magazine, busy publishing a stale 19th century 3D photo concept and were feeling really proud about it. It is a pity that there is no soul yet in the press to rescue people from this day light corporate theft.

The set top box was introduced based on various projections; today not even 50% of the projections have been achieved. Many in Chennai decided to stick on to basic cables. Been reading various Blogs based out of Chennai for long time now and I have never come across anyone discussing this issue. Some might have, but who knows may be most could afford this money or really don’t care for TV. But visiting from another country I feel this issue is worth a discussion. People are being ripped right royally. Serious Bloggers should take up public awareness issues
instead of “I am using gopal palpodi” or “I ride a Segway to work” or “Blowing second line bagpipe harmony for existing press”.

There are people who do try to take up social issues on their Blogs, but we need more. Remember Blogs here in the west have the power to change the course of an election. It is about time for spending at least 10k of data a week for this purpose. People in Chennai face “heat”, “no water cry”, “and ridiculous traffic” and now add this - “Set Top Box racket”.