Jayalalithaa writes to Manmohan Singh

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in expediting the issuance of digital addressable system (DAS) licence to the Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV).

In a letter, Ms. Jayalithaa said that though TACTV had applied for the digital addressable system licence to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on July 5, the issue of the licence was still pending even though the Ministry granted DAS licences to nine other Multi System Operators (MSOs) in Tamil Nadu, including those who applied after the TACTV did.

The Chief Minister’s appeal comes within days of Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari asking TRAI to recommend measures to rein in monopolies in the cable TV sector so that viewers get a wider choice.

According to Ms. Jayalalithaa, following her Government’s revival efforts, the TACTV had emerged as the country’s single largest MSO reaching out to an estimated 23,000 LCOs with a subscriber base of 60 lakh.

The TACTV which was offering 100 channels to the subscribers at a cost of Rs.70 per month per subscriber had freed the people from the clutches of the erstwhile Multi System Operators, who used to fleece them by charging Rs.150 – Rs.250 per month as subscription for showing just 30 – 70 channels, she said.

The Chief Minister said after the Government of India, through an amendment to the relevant Act, modified the Conditional Access System area into Digital Addressable System area, the TACTV Corporation was taking all efforts to start its operations in the digital mode in Chennai. The Corporation has also placed orders for the supply of Set Top Boxes, Conditional Access System and Subscriber Management System and erection of Head End at a cost of about Rs.50 crore.

However, on the issue of DAS licence, Ms. Jayalithaa stated that in spite of then I&B Minister Ambika Soni’s assurance in October to a delegation led by Dr. M. Thambidurai, MP, which also met Mr. Manish Tewari, and persistent efforts by AIADMK MPs and senior State officials, the DAS licence to TACTV was still pending with the Ministry.

Ms. Jayalithaa also pointed to a December 6 order of the Madras High Court that “the process of issue of licence to Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation may go on and the licence may also be issued”.