CABLE TV DIGITISATION

Cable operators in Chennai are now seeking to extend the TV digitisation deadline to March 31, 2013, citing shortage of set-top boxes. The operators’ associations have moved the Madras High Court, and the case comes up for hearing on December 24.

Besides shortage of set-top boxes, consumers in the city are confused, as many local cable operators (LCOs) have not yet chosen their multi-system operators (MSOs). The major reason is that the Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable Corporation Ltd, a dominant MSO in the State, is yet to get the digital addressable system (DAS )licence from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

According to sources, the State Government has broached the matter with the Prime Minister, and he has promised to look into the issue.

When contacted, D. Vivekanandan, Managing Director of Arasu Cable, told Business Line that he is hopeful of getting the licence very soon, as he sees no reason why Arasu Cable should not be given the licence.

Though only two – SCV and Jak Network — are active as of now, a total of eleven players have obtained DAS licences to operate in the city.

There are close to two million TVs in the city, and of this only six lakh homes are digitised (this includes DTH homes too) so far, says Vivekanandan.

A “substantial” number of local cable operators – catering to over 60 per cent of the analogue TV homes – have registered with Arasu Cable so far, he said. “We have signed contracts to import nine lakh set-top boxes. The first consignment of two lakh units is expected in the next couple of weeks, and the installation work will begin from the end of December.”

The Tamil Nadu Government too has sought an extension of the digitisation deadline till March 31.

ravikumar.ramanujam@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 6, 2012)
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