TAMIL NADU

TV screens go blank as Hathway cables are damaged

CHENNAI JUNE 26. In the latest round of battle over cable television service, the TV screens in scores of homes served by the MSO, Hathway, went blank on Thursday, after its cable was severed in 31 places in the city. Company officials described this as a `clear act of sabotage' by vested interests.

According to officials of the Hathway Cable and Datacom Private Limited, complaints of cable lines being severed received a fortnight ago and reached its peak in the past one week. An official said cables were cut on the night of June 21 and they took a few hours to restore them. Soon after the cables were restored, miscreants once again damaged them just one hour before a popular show was aired on the following day, indicating that business considerations were at work.

The DGM of Hathway, K.S. Suresh Kumar, alleged that their cables were being selectively targeted by a particular group to exert pressure on their operators to change their loyalties and also on the subscribers to change their operators. The ploy, he said, was partially successful as many of the subscribers bought the argument of the manipulators and changed their operators.

He said the cables had been severed at Adyar, Spur Tank Road and other places in Chetpet area, Kilpauk, Anna Nagar, T.Nagar, Perambur and a few places in North Chennai, Triplicane and Vadapalani.

Pointing out that the Hathway had the response systems capable of restoring damaged lines, he said that despite this facility, they were being harassed by vested interests.

As the date set for introduction of the Conditional Access System (CAS) - July 14 - gets closer, there is heightened activity in the city, to retain monopolistic control of subscribers. What is more, subscribers have been demanding that operators make clear their roll out plan for supply of set-top boxes, as it would be illegal under law to offer pay channels after the date set, without STBs. The pay channels, meanwhile, have been flouting the directive of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to furnish their price for individual channels, with no strong response from the Centre so far.

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