Direct-to-home (DTH) service providers have to give prior notice to their subscribers before making any changes in price or composition of the consumerís subscription package.

This is part of the amended Quality of Services (QoS) norms and redressal of grievances regulations for DTH, announced by telecom and broadcast regulator Trai.

As per the new regulations, DTH operators cannot charge any fee for repair and maintenance of equipment which has been purchased by a consumer, during the period of warranty. This rule does not apply if the consumer has rented the equipment from the service provider on a nominal monthly fee.

"The service provider also cannot remove a channel in DTH viewersí subscription packages during the first six months of enrolment or during the period of validity of a prepaid subscription package, whichever is longer," the regulator said in a statement.

If a DTH player does remove a channel from an existing package it will have to proportionately reduce the monthly subscription fee charged to the consumer.
Alternatively, the service provider can also offer another channel of the same genre or language as a replacement for the channel that has been removed from the package.

But the regulator pointed that the option of choosing the package with reduced charges or with a replacement channel lies with the consumer and not the DTH company.

Most DTH service providers have been in a tiff with one or more broadcaster over the price at which the channels are offered to them. Sometimes channels are removed from the DTH bouquet without any information to the consumer who has subscribed to a package.

Last year Tata Sky and ESPN Star Sports were battling over their financial agreement and the former had blocked ESPN from its basic package .