20 lakh households face threat of TV blackout
By C Shivakumar - CHENNAI
30th November 2012 08:22 AM
More than 20 lakh households in Chennai Metropolitan Area are facing the threat of a television blackout, after the Madras High Court on Thursday orally refused to extend the deadline for installation of set top boxes (STBs).
Tamil Nadu Cable TV Owners Association (TANCUS) state president Kayal R S Elavarasu told Express that 20 lakh households faced the threat of a television blackout, but expressed hope that all was not lost.
“The court has not passed any other order, except that it has orally refused to extend the deadline. It has also adjourned the matter for four weeks. We still have four weeks’ time and we will put forth our case,” he said.
He, however, felt that installation of more than 20 lakh set top boxes would be a Herculean task. “The city has an approximate number of 2,000 cable operators and on any given day, they can install only 10 set top boxes. As such, installation of the set top boxes itself will take nearly 100 days,” he said.
Interestingly, the bigger issue is the non-availability of set top boxes. “They have to import the STBs from China. But now, the country would be celebrating its new year and as such, for a month, it is impossible to get STBs from that country,” said a spokesperson of the Chennai Metro Cable Operators Association (CMCOA).
Elavarasu said, to install the 20 lakh set top boxes, it would take up to August 31, 2013. He said the biggest challenge was to force consumers to switch over to digital addressable system (DAS). “Not all are coming forward. We are just a service provider. It would be easier if we charge them an extra of Rs 100 every month so that, by the given period, set top boxes could be installed in their homes,” he added.
The CMCOA spokesperson stated that the last mile operators also faced challenges in zeroing in on a multi-service operator (MSO). With the Centre delaying licence to government-run multi-system operator Arasu Cable, last mile operators do not know which private MSO to chose from as they feel they do not have the adequate infrastructure to meet the deadline.
However, Elavarasu said there was still hope as the case is coming up in the Madurai Bench of the HC next month. “Once the court gives clearance to government run MSO, then licence for Arasu won’t be a problem,” he said.
The deadline issue is also piling up pressure on the last mile operators, who are losing their subscribers. Elavarasu said that cable operators had lost 15 pc subscribers following the delay in switching over to DAS.
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