Arasu Cable Corporation appeals for further extension

Doubts remain whether Chennai will meet the extended deadline of October 31, set by the Centre to completely switch the distribution of its cable television signals from analogue to digital.

The deadline warrants every cable TV home in the city to have a digital set-top box from November 1 to view even the free-to-air channels that are currently being distributed by cable TV operators for a monthly cost of Rs. 98. But, there is hardly any visible urgency either by local cable TV operators or MSOs.

On Thursday, the State Government-run Arasu Cable Corporation said it had appealed for a further extension of the deadline for the rollout of digital services. The Centre has said all metros will have to make the switch to digital by the month-end.

In a telephonic interview to TheHindu, Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited managing director D. Vivekanandan said they were floating a tender on October 12 (Friday) for procurement of digital set-top boxes. “Our first tendering process did not work out because the participants quoted high prices. It would not have been viable to sell it at those prices. This time around we hope that we will get a competitive pricing.”

Extension of the deadline was necessary because the re-tendering process had a cascading effect on preparedness.

Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited is one of three multi-system operators (MSOs) in the city that operate the head ends for cable TV distribution, the other two being Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV) and JAK Networks.

Meanwhile, six new applicants have approached the government to run MSO operations. Cable TV distribution in Chennai has been mired in complaints of monopolistic practices over the years.

So far, last mile monopoly exists in several areas: cable TV viewers invariably have just one service provider at the street-level. It is estimated the city may have 40 lakh cable TV connections.