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Chennai Exclusive News Regional

Cable TV digitization: New deadline for Chennai is now March 31, 2013, court hearing on Dec 24

Chennai, Dec 7 (): Citing short supply of set-top boxes (STB), local cable operators (LCOs) in Chennai are now looking to extend the digitization deadline to March 31, 2013. The case comes up for hearing on December 24 at Madras High Court.

The state-owned Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited had also previously filed a counter-affidavit to get an extension of the digitization deadline till March 31, 2013.

Apart from short supply of set-top boxes, many local cable operators have not yet selected their multi-system operators (MSOs). Arasu Cable Corporation Ltd, the main MSO in the State is yet to get the digital addressable system (DAS) licence from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Sources say that the State Government has taken up the matter with the Prime Minister, who has promised to look into the issue.

D. Vivekanandan, Managing Director of Arasu Cable, told Business Line that he is positive of getting the licence very soon, as he sees no reason why Arasu Cable should not be given the licence. He added that only six lakh homes are digitized so far which includes DTH homes, out of close to two million TVs in the city.

A total of eleven players have acquired DAS licences to operate in the city though only two – SCV and Jak Network are active as of now.

Mr Vivekanandan said that a “sizeable” number of local cable operators – servicing over 60 per cent of the analogue TV homes have registered with Arasu Cable so far. He added that they have signed contracts to import nine lakh set-top boxes. The first consignment of two lakh units is scheduled to arrive in the next couple of weeks, while the installation work will commence from end-December.

After a string of extensions, 19th November was set as the final deadline for digitization in Chennai. It may be recalled that the Madras High Court had refused further extension of digitization deadline in Chennai beyond November 19.