Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Saturday rolled out the State-run, multi-system operator Arasu Cable TV’s services in Chennai, in what was a signal of preparedness ahead of the impending October 31 deadline for the four metros to switch to digital transmission of cable TV signals.

A press release issued by the government said the Chief Minister inaugurated the service through video conferencing.

The Multi-System Operator (MSO), which was originally launched in September last year, currently has around 58 lakh subscribers in various parts of the State. For Chennai, 100 free channels would be offered for Rs. 70, and additional pay channels can be chosen on payment.

Sources in Arasu Cable TV said they were in the final stages of firming up the tender contract for procuring the digital set-top boxes. Arasu Cable said 2,000 local cable operators had already registered for its services. Some of them have started collecting an advance of Rs. 500 from the end users for set-top boxes.

Arasu Cable has said it would distribute the set-top boxes on a first-come-first-served basis.

Chennai is estimated to have close to 40 lakh houses having cable TV.

In the press release, the government noted that the Arasu Cable TV had been launched to strike down on certain monopolistic practices.