“They have fixed the minimum package rate at Rs.70 without consulting any of us”

The government-run multi-system operator Arasu Cable is not delivering on its promise – specifically of eliminating monopoly in cable TV distribution in the State and safeguarding the interests of last mile operators – according to Tamilnadu Federation of Cable TV association, a collective of various cable TV operator associations in the State.

At a press meet here on Tuesday, the federation members said though the AIADMK government had revived the Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited (ACTCL) last year on the premise that it would be a viable alternative for many cable TV operators and subscribers in the State, recent developments had gone against the grain of what had been promised.

Several last mile operators (or local cable operators) who had signed up with Arasu TV, charged that since last month there had been a number of instances across the State where the MSO had started demanding a higher subscription fee from cable operators, after having increased the of subscribers without any intimation. Simultaneously, the government had started revising the number of cable TV home by checking the ration cards distributed in an area.

The cable TV operators also said there were no cable TV operators in the working committee of ACTCL to represent the problems they faced in the last mile operations.

“They have fixed the minimum package rate at Rs.70 without consulting any of us,” said G. Dhamodharan, state general secretary of Tamizhaga Cable TV Operator’s General Welfare Association.

“A minimum fee of Rs.100 has been in practise over the past five years and the reduction of this monthly fee is hurting the operations and maintenance costs. Running cable TV operations even in a small village with just about 500 connections costs close to Rs.30,000 a month.”

“There was a meeting in June last year when all cable TV associations were called at the secretariat to discuss the revival and the expansion of the activities of ACTCL,” said D.G.V.P. Sekar, chief co-ordinator of Federation of Cable TV Associations, Tamilnadu. “It was mentioned during the meeting that the main purpose for the revival was to end the monopoly of some MSOs who were harassing the local cable TV operators by boosting the subscriber base and overcharging. Now Arasu Cable is doing the same. They are threatening to replace one monopoly with another.”

N. Yuvaraj of Tamilnadu Arasu Cable TV Oliparappargal Association said already some of the cable TV operators in some districts were opting out of Arasu and getting ready to form their own MSOs.

The issue has already been taken to various courts by aggrieved cable TV operators. One such case came up for hearing at the Madras High Court Bench in Madurai recently.

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