Submits counter affidavit before a Division Bench in a PIL petition

The State Government has denied allegations of attempt to create a monopoly in cable television business through Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV). It claimed that 35,248 Local Cable Operators (LCOs) and 2,641 Multi System Operators (MSOs) across the State (except Chennai) had enrolled with it voluntarily sans any force or coercion.

S.K. Prabakar, Secretary, Information Technology Department, made the submission in a counter affidavit submitted before a Division Bench of Justices K.N. Basha and P. Devadass who were seized of a public interest litigation petition filed by K. Murugan, general secretary of Federation of Consumer Organisations Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry (FEDCOT) against TACTV in the Madras High Court Bench here.

It began functioning with a subscriber base of 1,28,259 which grew to 1,59,358 in October 2008. Thereafter, the company became defunct due to monopoly of certain business establishments and their unlawful activities. After the taking over of the new government last year, an announcement was made in the Legislative Assembly to revive the activities of the defunct company.

A Government Order was issued on August 26, 2011 renaming it as TACTV. There was overwhelming response from LCOs and MSOs who volunteered to be part of the company and agreed to hand over their existing control rooms to TACTV. A decision was made to collect from each subscriber a monthly subscription of Rs. 70 of which Rs. 20 alone would be taken by TACTV.

The result was that about 54.58 lakh subscribers chose TACTV in 31 districts of the State (except Chennai) as on June 25 this year. The company started functioning in Chennai too from October 20. The popularity was due to quality services at low cost as the company had successfully negotiated terms with many pay channels too apart from the free-to-air channels.

Mr. Prabakar said that Sun Network Media had initially demanded exorbitant rate for offering their bouquet of 33 channels to TACTV. The company insisted on payment of Rs. 15 crore per month during a meeting held on September 10, 2011 and increased the amount to Rs. 17.54 crore in the meeting held on September 14, 2011. Subsequently, after several rounds of negotiations, the private network lowered their demand and concluded a deal with TACTV in July this year. Without disclosing the amount for which the deal was closed, the IT Secretary said that the Sun networks channels were being aired on TACTV, which had purchased about 95 pay channels, since August 2.

Dismissing allegations of political bias, the secretary said that all channels including Kalaignar TV, Vasanth TV and Mega TV were carried through TACTV without any discrimination.

After taking the counter on file, the Division Bench adjourned further hearing to December 12.

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