Cable TV

Mumbai cable ops ignore shutdown call

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MUMBAI: In a reflection of the deep divisions among cable operators and control room owners, a call for a shutdown in Mumbai to protest against the ongoing drive in the western state of Maharashtra to collect entertainment tax arrears was largely ignored in the city.

The call was given by the newly formed Union of Cable Operators and Cable Room Owners (UCOCRO), after a marathon meeting on Tuesday.

The attempt of UCOCRO to bring cable operators under one umbrella has clearly failed and few operators seem to buy the argument that the way to protest against the recent directive from the government to get tough on defaulting operators is through a united shutdown.

The matter 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.

The fractious nature of cable industry can be seen from the email sent to us by a leading Mumbai cable operator in response to the report on the strike call posted on Tuesday:

"Do not put false and stupid statements about the cable TV industry, [total band(h) in Maharashtra]. If Atul Sharaf says there will be no transmission in Maharashtra, can he shut off his own network? Leave the whole maharashtra, and you unnecessarily put (out) a false statement.

"Just because of the few people who want to be leaders they do all this nonsense. Any sensible businessmen will not go for it. If the government imposes taxes it has to pass it on to (the) subscriber. Band(h) is not the solution. As it is operators are not paying 100 per cent tax of their subscriber but on the increase they can increase on their total subscriber base.

"You said there will be total band(h) on Tuesday midnight. All wrong and bullshit."

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