Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Arasu TV will be back in a month: CM

The cable TV war is once again hotting up in the state with chief minister J Jayalalithaa promising last mile cable TV operators in the state on Wednesday that a revamped state-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation limited (ACTCL would provide them feed shortly. The ACTCL is expected to be functioning within a month even as the government readies a cable TV policy.

In a meeting with representatives of sixteen cable TV operators' associations, Jayalalithaa, responding to a request from the operators to revive ACTCL before the local body polls, said, they would not have to wait till the polls, N Yuvaraj, state president of ACTCL cable operators' association, told TOI. With a view to posing a formidable challenge to the Sun TV-owned Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV), the government is planning to provide cable connection to Chennai city residents at Rs 100 a month and to those in rural areas at a lesser amount. Senior ministers and officials were present at the 30-minute meeting. "ACTCL will provide all Tamil channels to viewers," said a senior official. Jayalalithaa has instructed state information technology (IT) department officials to take all necessary steps to ensure flawless service by ACTCL. Earlier, cable operators had a separate discussion with IT minister RB Udayakumar and senior officials. Yuvaraj said, "We explained our problems to the chief minister. She was quite receptive. While Sun TV, Raj TV and Vijay TV are free channels in Chennai, they are paid channels in other districts. All these channels should be made available to the viewers without any additional cost."

Responding to a specific request to provide them security from private Multi System Operators (MSOs), Jayalalithaa said the state was committed to ensuring the security of cable operators, said Yuvaraj.

To a plea from cable operators to nationalize cable network, Jayalalithaa said, "The government will take necessary legal steps," Tamil Nadu Cable TV operators' association president Karur Arumugam told TOI. The attempt to revive Arasu Corporation is seen more as a political game to counter the near monopoly of the Sun Group. However, at a time when the industry has migrated to the more advanced direct-to-home technology, the government will need huge funds to strengthen Arasu's technological muscle and meet the Sunnetwork's challenge. Also, for the Sun Group, the SCV is not the flagship vertical. The group's major revenue earner is the main Sun TV channel and not its cable arm, point out industry sources.

Sources in the IT ministry said the government was in the process of finalizing a draft for the cable TV policy, which would be unveiled soon.

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