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Private MSOs make a comeback

Image result for Private MSO tamilnaduArasu Cable TV Corporation, which recently launched a digital signal service for its customers in the State, is rapidly losing its customer and operator base to private multi-system operators, who have made a comeback after about five years.

Acting on largescale complaints of fleecing of customers, the State government revived Arasu Cable TV Corporation in 2011 and started providing analog signal to them for a monthly subscription of Rs. 70, thereby largely controlling the private MSOs including Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV).

The customer base of Arasu Cable, which was 4.94 lakh in September 2011, grew up to 62.17 lakh in 2013. It went up further in subsequent years, mainly driven by the factor of cheap and affordable subscription charges. It has about 3 lakh customers in Tiruchi district alone.

With the launch of digital services by the State after receiving the Digital Addressable System (DAS) licence from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Arasu Cable TV Corporation is currently distributing set top boxes (STB) to its customers through cable TV operators free of cost. However, according to sources, it is finding it extremely difficult to make inroads due to the sudden entry of at least six private multi-system operators, including SCV, which has reportedly received DAS licence recently.

Though Arasu Cable Corporation office in Tiruchi has more than one lakh STBs, it has so far managed to distribute just 10,000 boxes as a majority of cable operators have joined private MSOs to receive digital signals. They have been refusing to distribute Arasu cable boxes, sources said. Instead, they promote boxes of private MSOs by convincing customers that the signal will be better than Arasu cable, collecting on an average of Rs. 2,000 for a set top box.

“It is our liberty to choose the MSOs to receive the digital signals. The government cannot compel us. I am no longer part of Arasu Cable TV network and I will not promote its set top boxes,” said a cable operator in Tiruchi on condition of anonymity.

While agreeing that cable operators are aggressively promoting private set top boxes, a senior official of Arasu Cable TV Corporation toldThe Hinduthat a section of cable operators had fallen prey to the private MSOs. There were complaints that cable operators are being threatened by some MSOs to join their network.

Cable operators will stand to gain by remaining under Arasu Cable TV Corporation, the officials said. Cable operators will get 50% share in the Rs. 125 monthly subscription plan, and Rs. 100 per connection under the Rs. 175 subscription plan. Hence, there is no reason for them to refuse to promote Arasu set top boxes, an officer said.


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