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Sun TV, Arasu spar over content deal

MUMBAI: Broadcaster Sun TV Network and Tamil Nadu state government-owned multi system operator (MSO) are sparring over the contract for the digital addressable system (DAS).

Sun TV has switched off signals to Arasu for digital homes for non-signing of the agreement. The MSO has, in return, switched off the broadcaster’s channels on its analogue network. The signals were switched off at the beginning of the week.

Reason: the broadcaster is demanding Rs 20 per set top box (STB) while the MSO is adamant on entering into a fixed fee deal as was the norm in analogue era. Sun TV is asking for Rs 22 per STB from smaller MSOs. The broadcaster only wants a cost per subscriber (CPS) deal.

Earlier, Arasu used to sign a letter of authorisation (LoA) with broadcasters to procure signals for a fixed amount.

However, the situation changed after the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) asked Arasu to digitise its network after granting a provisional MSO registration.

“Earlier, the broadcasters used to sign LoA with Arasu to do deals. No agreements were signed earlier. Now, Sun TV is insisting an agreement for digital subscribers,” said a source in the know of the development.

According to a source, Arasu has so far seeded 8 lakh set top boxes (STBs) ever since it started digitising in September. The MSO has an estimated 70 lakh homes still to be digitised.

Repeated attempts to call Arasu Cable officials for their reaction proved futile till the time of filing this report.

Sun TV’s distribution arm Sun Distribution Services MD and CEO Mohammed Mujeebuddin refused to comment on the issue stating that the issue will be resolved by the parties.

Due to the switch-off, Arasu’s digital customers are left in the lurch as Sun TV is a popular brand in Tamil Nadu, the source said.

He further added that the cable operators are indulging in large-scale piracy of Sun TV channels in the analogue market to deal with the non-availability of Sun channels.