Mumbai

MNS, Sena back local cable operators against Reliance

Raj, Uddhav rush to raise pitch against Jio fibre tech

Mumbai: Cousins Raj and Uddhav Thackeray, known for their political tussles, have found a new bone of contention: control over Mumbai’s cable operators and distributors.

With Reliance Jio’s fibre technology finding its way into almost every housing society in the city and posing a tough challenge to the local cable operator, Raj’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Uddhav’s Shiv Sena have taken to the streets. And going by their posturing in support of cable operators, a majority of whom are Marathi, it seems they have no intention of making it smooth for Reliance’s expansion.

‘Fibre will kill us’

Tushar Afale, general secretary, Maharashtra Navnirman Cable Sena (MNCS), said, “We aren’t against the company doing business here, but Mumbai’s cable industry was developed and shaped by local operators. A big company like Reliance is now setting up its own fibre network, which will directly kill the local cable operator.”

In the past week alone, Raj has met with over 300 cable operators, assuring that the party will stand with them. The issue was first raised by MNCS when its leader in Goregaon, Virendra Jadhav, damaged Reliance’s fibre network in the area. Mr. Afale said his party has only one demand: “They shouldn’t bypass the cable operator while reaching out to the customer. This is beneficial to the end user as well. In case customers want to switch to another service, they can do so easily.”

The cable operators’ fear of losing business is based on the existing industry pyramid, with the broadcaster at the top. Then comes multi-system operators, like Hathway and In Cable, and at the base is the cable operator. Over the past few years, distributors, who control several operators, have become an integral part. Mumbai has close to 9,000 cable operators, and the business employs around one lakh people. Industry insiders say despite the easy availability of digital TV, cable operators control close to 85% of the business in the city.

Sena joins fray

With MNS taking the lead, the Shiv Sena too has jumped into the fray. In a meeting with cable operators and distributors on Saturday, party chief Uddhav Thackeray said the Sena stands with them, and that their livelihood will not be threatened.

Sena MLC Anil Parab, who heads the Cable Operator and Distributor Association, said inroads into the businesss by Reliance Jio would adversely affect the local cable operator. “These are Marathi people. We can do the work needed, and therefore we demand that local operators not be bypassed.”

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 7:41:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/mns-sena-back-local-cable-operators-against-reliance/article24787406.ece

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