Thursday, July 21, 2011

PPIM urged the government : 'Review Astro's monopoly licence'

KUALA LUMPUR: The Muslim Consumers' Association (PPIM) has urged the government to end Astro's monopoly over the provision of satellite pay television, given the company's failure to heed the cabinet's request not to proceed with a price increase.

PPIM adviser Tengku Azwil Tengku Abdul Razak said yesterday it was time to review key provisions in Astro's broadcasting licence, which gave the company sole rights to provide direct-to-home broadcasting services in the country.

"I think it is time to introduce a more competitive environment, given Astro's refusal to heed calls from the government and consumers."

The cabinet had decided earlier this month not to allow Astro to raise its rates without clearance from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

However, Astro went ahead with plans to streamline its packages offered beginning July 11, saying the law did not require it to obtain prior approval from a third party, such as the MCMC, to raise prices.

According to Astro, following the streamlining exercise, customers could make savings of between RM4 and RM14.95, or pay nominal increases of between RM1 and RM15, depending on packages preferred.

Azwil also requested the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry to take action against Astro under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act to protect consumers.

"Astro's services should also be listed as controlled services under the Control of Supplies Act 1961."

He said PPIM, which is leading a group of 70 non-governmental organisations protesting against the price hike, would continue to urge consumers to boycott Astro as well as the products advertised by the company.

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