Also raised in Parliament...

Also raised in Parliament...

PARLIAMENT

1 FAIRER PAY-TV CONTRACTS

Pay-TV operators may soon be stopped from changing terms in their contracts without the customer's consent, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim told Parliament yesterday.

When consumers try to exit the contract, they often have to pay a penalty, but the Media Development Agency (MDA) will be reviewing the Media Market Conduct Code to introduce additional consumer-protection measures for pay-TV subscription services by the end of the year.

Other unfair practices include requiring subscribers to upgrade other unrelated services, such as broadband services, when they change their pay-TV services.

Dr Yaacob was responding to MP Vikram Nair, who spoke about pay-TV customers facing unfair terms in their contracts. Mr Nair also asked for standard terms in pay-TV contracts, which the minister said his ministry will study.

2 DIGITAL SET BOX FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES

Low-income families will also benefit from digital TV, which was first introduced by MediaCorp on seven free-to-air channels in December last year.

They will get an assistance package in the form of a digital set box and indoor antenna, which will be installed by an MDA-appointed contractor, Dr Yaacob said. These groups are families in one- and two-room flats and those on the public assistance scheme.

3 REVERSE MORTGAGES FOR THE ELDERLY

Allowing the elderly the option of reverse mortgages for their HDB flats is being studied carefully by the National Development Ministry (MND).

Reverse mortgages are loans taken by owners using their property as collateral. They are repaid with interest when the owner dies or upon termination of the loan, with money usually coming from the sale of the flat.

"It is timely to revisit reverse mortgage as an additional option for our seniors... We hope to formulate a practical scheme for our seniors," said MND Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament yesterday.

NTUC Income tried reverse mortgages before, but it did not do well. Mr Khaw said that this option was suggested by some at last year's Our Singapore Conversation sessions.

Under a similar current scheme called the Enhanced Lease Buyback Scheme introduced in February last year, a senior sells part of his or her flat's lease to HDB and retains a 30-year lease. The net proceeds are then used to top up their Central Provident Fund Retirement Accounts. But this scheme has had a low take-up rate of 390 so far.


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