Television

Mumbai cable ops set to join statewide blackout

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Cable operators and control room owners in the western Indian state of Maharashtra are on a collision course with the state government threatening to terminate services indefinitely to protest against the state's tax collection drive. A total shutdown was set to go into effect as of Tuesday night after a marathon meeting in Mumbai which had representation from all across the state.

At the time of posting the report, the cable feeds were on in most parts of the city although in areas of central Mumbai like Sion it was off.

Earlier, the news was that the action would be deferred for two days to allow time for the issue to be resolved amicably.

Mumbai-based Live Satellite Media promoter Atul Saraf, who is on the committee of the Union of Cable Operators and Cable Room Owners (UCOCRO), said after the meeting that there was no question of backing down till their demands had been met.

Operators switched off feeds in many towns and cities across the state on Monday itself. Pune, Miraj, Sangli, Kolhapur and Pandharpur witnessed the first closures after revenue officials sealed control rooms in these places for non-payment of entertainment tax arrears.

Matters came to a head after a recent directive from the government to get tough on defaulting operators following which certain operators were arrested and control rooms seized. The issue has been hanging fire for over six months following the doubling of entertainment tax per connection per month from Rs 15 to Rs 30 in municipal areas and from Rs 10 to Rs 20 in other parts of the state. It may be recalled that operators went on strike over the issue in August 2000 after which a committee representing operators, the government and consumers was set up to resolve the issue.

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