September 11, 2015
Following the digitization of cable television system, there seems to be confusion prevailing among the cable users and the cable operators in the State that customers may have to go in for new set-top boxes for uninterrupted services.
The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has introduced the digitisation of the services in place of the old cable system. This has already introduced in Chennai, and has come to Coimbatore now. The Arasu Cable TV Corporation has informed that the process of digitizing will be extended to all parts of the State in phases.
Consumers are confused. Due to this, there was a drastic change in the programmes that were being shown on Arasu cable service. Some of the channels have been totally stopped.
Explaining the developments, a cable operator who did not wish to be named, said that Arasu Cable TV Corporation has been telecasting programmes in analogue mode, and has been giving 100 channels. But in digital system, 1000 channels can be shown, but one needs to install set top boxes to see these channels.
After the Cable TV Network Act was amended and Digital Accessible System (DAS) introduced by the Centre, the Tamil Nadu Government applied for multiple access permits needed for digitization in 2012. But, these permits are normally not given to the Government and its affiliated agencies. The license application from the Tamil Nadu Government Cable TV Corporation was kept pending. Only after the license is obtained can the service be fully digitized.
Some of the channels in analogue mode system have been replaced by those in the digital system. They cannot be telecast through ordinary cable networks. That is why many channels are not available since the past few weeks. They can be seen only if new set top boxes are installed. Presently, the cable operators are collecting Rs.1,912 from each customer towards the cost of the set top box. Post digitization the monthly cable rent will go up to Rs.200.
Referring to the issue, the District level officer of the Arasu cable TV mentioned that after Chennai, the digital system is now being introduced in Coimbatore. Since the order for the same came suddenly, adequate publicity could not be done.
Through the new system, 86 analogue channels and 220 digital channels are telecast. The set top box of Arasu cable TV is available for Rs.1,912 each and so far around 5,000 set top boxes have been sold. The officials do not know anything about the issue of licence.
The sale of set top boxes is on in Coimbatore, but the public is unaware of the new digital system in the city. Cable TV operators are being forced to sell the set top boxes of the Arasu Cable TV. Even before obtaining proper licence, the State Government has started telecasting in digital system in Chennai and Coimbatore. Customers are fixing these set top boxes by paying nearly Rs. 2,000 each. The cable TV operators are worried that if the Arasu TV does not get proper licence digitization, all these set top boxes will go a waste.