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DAS licence for Arasu in Jayalalithaa’s wish list to Modi

MUMBAI: With a friendlier regime at the helm, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to present the state government’s wish list that included its demand for granting digital addressable system (DAS) licence to Arasu Cable TV Corporation.

Jayalalithaa met Modi at 3.30 pm at the latter’s office and greeted him on assuming office as PM of the country. The meeting lasted for 50 minutes and the PM assured the TN CM of early action on the issues raised in the memorandum.

“He gave me a patient hearing and promised to do the needful,” Jayalalithaa said after the meeting. Though the AIADMK has ruled out joining the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), it has not ruled out supporting the NDA in Rajya Sabha where the ruling alliance does not enjoy majority.

While it is too early to predict whether Arasu will get a licence or not, industry sources say that the state government is optimistic about getting DAS licence particularly since Modi and Jayalalithaa share a good rapport.

The issue of DAS licence has been a sore point between AIADMK and the preceding UPA. The TN government had run pillar to post to secure DAS licence from the previous regime but in vain.

The TN government had several run-ins with the UPA government regarding the licence issue, but the UPA was not too keen to grant DAS licence to Arasu since AIADMK’s arch-rival DMK was part of the UPA government until it broke away in March last year over the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.

The UPA government also denied licence to Arasu on the ground that the sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended against allowing government or government-owned entities from entering the cable TV distribution or broadcast sector.

Earlier this year, TRAI had warned MSOs in Chennai from transmitting analogue signals or face action. In response, Arasu had moved the Madras High Court to restrain TRAI from taking any coercive action. The MSO had contended that it cannot provide digital signals since its licence demand was pending with the government.

The HC had provided interim relief to Arasu and had asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to expedite Arasu’s DAS licence application.

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