Chennai,Mar 30 (): Arasu Cable TV which has about two lakh analog connections is likely to go blank from April 1 as the State-owned Corporation is yet to get the TRAI licence for the digital addressable system (DAS) in Chennai.
Under its revised policy decisions (2008), TRAI would not permit state or central governments or their undertakings to enter either broadcasting or distribution activities or function as a multi-system operator or cable operator.
The Arasu Cable TV Corporation has 61.5 lakh subscribers in 31 districts, including 14.3 lakh in the Chennai metro area alone. As a last attempt, B Murugesh, general manager of the Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited had filed two writ petitions in the Madras High Court looking for a direction to the Centre to process the state government’s applications for DAS licence, submitted in July and November last year. The Madras High Court has also ruled out any more extensions for cable digitization.
Chennai has seven major MSOs, including Sumangali Cable Vision, Tamil Nadu Cable Communications and Jak Network. Arasu Cable has already purchased 50,000 set-top-boxes and invested about Rs 40 crore. With the Madras High Court’s decision not to intervene in the Arasu Cable’s efforts to obtain a DAS licence, the fate of the state-owned corporation remains unclear.
Switching over from analog to digital signals is not happening at a desired pace due to insufficient manpower and lack of set-top boxes (STB). Installation is also said to be a time-consuming process. Considering this reason at least, the government must consider extending the deadline, feel the MSOs. Also,many people in Chennai are of the opinion that obtaining a digital connection is costly.
Chennai is said to have a total subscriber base of 30 lakh. But,only about three lakh STBs were distributed in the city by various Multi System Operators (MSOs) to customers.
D Vivekanandan, MD of the state-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation said that only six lakh homes in the city have been digitized which include direct-to-home (DTH) connections.
The Corporation’s license to give analogue cable TV service ends by March 31 which has left the local cable operators confused.