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Jayalalithaa seeks Narendra Modi’s intervention in Arasu DAS licence issue
MUMBAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to expedite the process of issuing digital addressable system (DAS) licence to state government-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation.
The Tamil Nadu CM pointed out that she had earlier raised the issue of DAS licence to Arasu in her memorandum to the PM. She also highlighted that she had written to Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Prakash Javadekar on the issue.
“I request you to kindly have this matter reviewed at the earliest and arrange to issue the digital addressable system licence to the Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd without any further loss of time,” Jayalalithaa wrote in her letter to Modi.
She further stated that the DAS licence will allow the TN government to adhere to its commitment to provide inexpensive and quality cable TV services to the people of the state, particularly the poor and the middle class.
“This is an issue on which I am keenly expecting an early decision from your government in view of the clear legal position and the strong merits of the case,” added Jayalalithaa.
Arasu, Jayalalithaa said, is providing cable TV services in 31 of the 32 districts of Tamil Nadu. It provides a package of 100 channels to subscribers at a cost of Rs 70 per month, the lowest rate anywhere in the country. The MSO provides signal to 24,000 local cable operators (LCOs) with a subscriber base of 65 lakh (6.5 million).
She asserted that Arasu has taken all the necessary steps to commence operations in the digital mode in Chennai city, which was covered under Phase I of DAS. Arasu, she added, has invested nearly Rs 500 million in set-top boxes (STBs), conditional access system (CAS), subscriber management system (SMS) and digital headend.
As per the provisions of the Cable TV Network (Regulations) Act, 1995, a person or an association of individuals or a company registered under the Companies Act is entitled to obtain a DAS licence.
“TACTV is fully qualified under the Act to be issued such a licence. I strongly suspect that the non-issuance of the DAS licence to TACTV by the previous UPA government was only to facilitate particular private business interests, as other licences were issued at the same time,” she alleged.
Arasu had applied for DAS licence on 5 July 2012 for operating in Chennai and on 23 November 2012 for operating in the rest of Tamil Nadu.
“Even as TACTV’s applications for licences were kept pending by the previous UPA government, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued licences to nine other multi-system operators in Tamil Nadu, including those who applied after TACTV,” she stated.
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had also passed orders in a writ petition pending before it, as early as 6 December 2012, that the process of issue of licence to Arasu may continue and the licence may also be issued.
“I had also written to the then Prime Minister of India to direct the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to issue the DAS licence to TACTV. Despite all these efforts, the digital addressable system licence is yet to be issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” Jayalalithaa revealed.
It is learnt that the I&B Ministry had constituted an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on 3.1.2013 to look into the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on the licensing issue and the committee is yet to submit its final report.