Singtel fined $145,000 for two pay-TV disruptions

The Singtel Comcentre at Somerset.
The Singtel Comcentre at Somerset. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singtel has been fined a total of $145,000 for two separate pay-TV disruptions recently that resulted in customers being tuned out of programmes across more than 10 channels each time.

The first incident, which took place on Oct 1 last year, lasted more than one hour, during which 100 Singtel TV subscribers islandwide experienced a complete loss of programmes on 11 channels.

Investigations by local regulator, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), showed that damaged fibre optic cables caused the initial disruption.

  • Timeline of recent Singtel fines over pay-TV problems

  • Incident: Jan 5, 2016

    Fine: $90,000

    What happened: For three hours, 1,400 Singtel TV viewers encountered an intermittently pixelated screen across 15 channels.

    Incident: Oct1, 2015

    Fine: $55,000

    What happened: For more than one hour, 100 Singtel TV subscribers islandwide experienced a complete loss of programmes on 11 channels.

    Incident: Feb 3, 2015

    Fine: $90,000

    What happened: For two hours, 11,000 subscribers could not boot up their set-top boxes or access on-demand content

    Incident: May 15, 2013

    Fine: $220,000

    What happened: Four days before the final day of the English Premier League season that year, about 26,000 pay-TV subscribers could not start up their set-top boxes due to a glitch. The disruption lasted nine hours.

    Incident: May 13, 2012

    Fine: $180,000

    What happened: For two hours, 115,000 households that tuned in to the concluding live telecasts of the English Premier League matches experienced intermittent screen freezes and blurred images.

Under normal circumstances, pay-TV signals would have been automatically routed over to back-up fibre optic cables. But this did not happen due to a faulty receiver card for automating the switchover to the back-up cables.

"SingNet did not have a robust process to test that the receiver card was functional," said IMDA in a statement on Friday (Nov 25) evening.

For this, Singtel was fined $55,000. SingNet is a unit of Singtel.

The second fine of $90,000 was for an incident on Jan 5 this year that lasted about three hours.

Some 1,400 Singtel TV viewers islandwide encountered an intermittently pixelated TV screen across 15 channels.

This was caused by a poorly configured router installed in August last year that could not handle the network traffic it was meant to.

Before meting out the financial penalties, IMDA considered Singtel's response to the incidents, the extent of the disruptions and its track record. The authority noted that Singtel has committed to preventing future recurrences of disruptions.

The biggest penalty ever meted out by the regulator for a pay-TV problem was $220,000 for a nine-hour TV disruption on May 15, 2013. That was four days before the final day of the English Premier League (EPL) season that year. About 26,000 pay-TV subscribers could not start up their set-top boxes due to a glitch.