Arasu seeks more time from MIB to go digital

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MUMBAI: With the deadline to go digital ending tomorrow, Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV) has sought some more time to complete the process of digitalising its analogue cable TV network as it has not been able to procure set-top boxes (STBs).

The Tamil Nadu government has written to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) seeking time until December to go digital.

“Arasu has written to the MIB seeking more time to go digital. They have sought time till December,” an MIB official told TelevisionPost.com.

Earlier, the MIB had granted a month’s extension to the state-owned multi-system operator (MSO) to go digital. TACTV had sought a three-month extension from the ministry.

However, the MIB had made it clear to TACTV that its licence would be revoked if it failed to go digital by 17 August.

The MIB official said that the ministry has not yet taken a decision on granting further extension as the request came on 14 August.

The MIB had granted provisional MSO licence to Arasu to operate in the Tamil Nadu state with the condition that the MSO would digitise its analogue cable TV network within three months. The deadline specified Arasu to make the switchover to digital cable by 17 July.

However, on 6 June the government of Tamil Nadu wrote to the MIB requesting a three-month extension. The MIB’s letter to Arasu granting only one month’s extension was dated 21 June. Arasu is in the process of procuring 70 lakh STBs.

In May, it had issued a global tender for the supply of STBs. The bid submission date for digital STBs, however, was extended to 9 June after bidders had expressed several concerns about certain conditions in the tender.

Subsequently, Arasu reportedly received interest from five players.

As reported earlier by TelevisionPost.com, the granting of provisional registration to Arasu is subject to the MIB taking a final call on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations suggesting entry barriers for state government or its entities in the TV broadcasting and distribution sector.

Arasu is the first state government agency to have received a (provisional) DAS licence. The ruling All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has promised to provide free STBs to consumers. This has made private MSOs jittery, who feel that they will also have to offer STBs free or see customers migrate to Arasu.


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