Cable TV

Tamil Nadu & DAS: Arasu issues notice against MediaPro

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BENGALURU:  Even as the Madras High Court has warned the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) not to take any coercive actions against Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV), the latter has taken steps to protect its interests in the state. 

The government owned MSO issued a public notice on 25 December, cautioning subscribers that the channels under MediaPro Enterprises India (MediaPro) would be disconnected 21 days after the issue of the notice.

Arasu has a presence in 27 districts in Tamil Nadu, having leased the headends of private MSOs there. 

The public notice states that the MSO has decided to take this action as the aggregator is in breach of letter of acceptance and non-conclusion of price negotiation between the two.  It warns subscribers and LCOs that they may not be able to view the channels on their TV sets 21 days from the date of publication of the notice. However, the MSO informs its subscribers and LCOs that alternate channels will be available for viewing in place of these 59 channels.

The notice has been issued under section 4.2 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India?s (TRAI) Telecommunications (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection Regulations 2004.

Unconfirmed reports allege that TNACTV has been arm twisting pay channel broadcasters and distributors to pay carriage fees to make up a for a mismatch of revenue and payouts to pay channels  of about 40 percent. According to TRAI, Arasu Cable, that is still delivering its services on analogue, has about 6 million subscribers under it in Tamil Nadu making up for a huge chunk of the 13 million cable TV homes in the state.

MediaPro was unavailable for comment at the time of filing this report. There are 59 channels listed including Star Vijay, Zee Tamizh, Asianet, Asianet Plus and several other Hindi, English and regional channels from the Star and Zee stable which MediaPro distributes. 

Whether the impact of Arasu clipping Mediapro will be heavy or not, nobody is willing to bet. However, prima facie the channels which would be impacted would be the English entertainment and movie channels, Zee Tamizh, Star Vijay, Asianet, and to a certain extent the kids, sports, news and factual entertainment channels which go to form the Mediapro  bouquet  However, the main drivers of the bouquet Zee TV and Star Plus would be impacted marginally, since Hindi is not a preferred viewing option in Tamil Nadu. 

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