Subscribers say they are unable to respond to requests from local cable TV operators

Cable TV subscribers in Chennai have been left confused on when the Digital Addressable System (DAS) will come into effect in the city.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has not categorically stated when broadcasters could switch off analog signals in the metro, in the backdrop of the case pending at the Madras High Court. Adding to the clamour are offers to consumers from various MSOs (multi system operators) under the premise that signals would get switched off by this month-end.

The State-run MSO Arasu Cable, meanwhile, has requested the Ministry, in its affidavit filed with the Madras High Court, that the rollout of DAS be put off till March 31 next year in order to allow it to procure and distribute the digital set top boxes that have been made mandatory for receiving satellite television signals in digital format. The licence for Arasu Cable to operate under the DAS regime is still pending with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Several consumers have started complaining that they are confused and unable to respond to requests from local cable TV operators, representing different MSOs. “While some cable operators come claiming an advance, there are others who come warning us not to buy set top boxes from certain MSOs,” said T. Sadagopan, a resident of the city suburb Pattabiram.

There is hectic activity among MSOs who have received their DAS licences in rolling out digital transmission of television signals in the city. Several local cable TV operators have grouped together and floated MSOs themselves as an act of survival. One such group has floated a company — Tamizhaga Cable TV Communications Private Limited (TCCL) — by forming a cooperative society, and in the process making every local cable TV operator a partner.

“This is the only way to ensure our survival in the scenario and ensuring that we retain our customers,” one of the operators said. TCCL has already set up its digital head-end at its corporate office in Chetpet and is awaiting its consignment of digital set top boxes to arrive. The company is confident of launching city-wide operations in the second week of January.

The uncertainty over cable TV has also led to several customers opting for the costlier option of Direct-to-Home .

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