Cable operators are complaining about poor infrastructure of the Arasu Cable TV Corporation in Madurai district.

Though they welcome the Government's entry into the cable industry, they are wary about joining the Government cable TV network for more than one reason.

Lack of optic fibre cable and popular pay channels in the Government network are the major drawback.

“Getting signal connectivity of satellite television channels from the MSO itself is a problem for us (the cable operators). The Government has only set up the multi-system operator facility. But, it lacks all required infrastructure,” A. Pandi, president of Cable Operators' Guild said.

The Government operator has asked the cable operators to lay their own optic fibre cable (OFC) network in the city to get connection.

“It is highly impossible. We do not have the wherewithal to put up an OFC network for hundreds of km. We will face technical problem if every operator started to lay his own cable,” guild secretary, P. Daniel, said. The MSO has to provide the feeder to all the cable operators across the district.

“Our job will be only to distribute the signal to the households,” he said.

Quality equipment sought

Mr. Pandi wanted the Government MSO to have quality equipment to send signal to over 400 operators in the city itself.

“If the OFC, modulator or nodes were of poor quality, then the quality of signal reception in deeper pockets of the city and the district would also be poor. We will not be able to face the subscribers' wrath,” he added.

Mr. Pandi said that technology of inter-connecting cables was a costlier issue and it required the slicing equipment.

“The Arasu Cable TV Corporation has got only one staff – an Assistant Consultant. How can we expect quality service, especially in the round-the-clock maintenance of the network,” Mr. Daniel said.

He pointed out that the MSO should have qualified staff to immediately attend to any technical problem. They should have a vehicle, necessary tools and equipment.

“Even if the signal is down for one hour, we will not be spared by the subscribers,” he said. The MSO also lacked even the generator facility, he added.

Mr. Pandi expressed apprehensions that subscribers would not like to join a cable network without the popular pay-channels.

“We will not be able to collect subscription if the channels of their choice were not in the air,” he said.

Besides, the operators feared that the subscribers could switch over to direct-to-home services.

Though the district administration has promised to allow only the existing cable operators in the Government cable TV network, the cable operators have other fear also.

They fear that taking advantage of the lack of popular TV channels with the cable operators in the Government network, parallel cable operators might intrude into their areas of operation with the help of private MSOs.

“Can the Government be able to stop a parallel cable operators coming into existence in our area?” Mr. Pandi asked.

The guild expected the Government to address all these issues immediately to enable the cable operators have a smooth transition from the private network to the Government network.

Official sources said that the operators were asked to lay cables only for smaller stretches.

“The operators were using old OFC lines already available,” he added. Recruitment of technical staff is under way.

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