Jayalalithaa steps in as Arasu fails to get licence

MUMBAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha has urged Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to expedite the matter of giving Digital Addressable System (DAS) licence to Tamil Nadu government-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation for operating in the Chennai metropolitan region.

In the letter dated 16 December, Jayalalitha said that the issue of DAS licence to Arasu Cable has been hanging fire for than five months now despite taking up the issue with Information & Broadcasting ministry several times.

AIADMK MPs had called on the PM on 29 November to look into the matter. However Arasu is yet to receive a DAS licence even as the Madras High Court has refused to grant further extension on digitisation deadline.

Arasu, which is Tamil Nadu’s biggest multi system operator (MSO), had applied for DAS licence on 5 July. The government has so far given licence to nine MSOs in Chennai.

“The Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd. had applied for the Digital Addressable System licence to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on 5.7.2012. The issue of the licence is still pending,” Jayalalitha said in her letter to the PM.

“It is learnt that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued the Digital Addressable System licence to nine other multi system operators in Tamil Nadu, including those who applied after the Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd.”

Jayalalitha said that a delegation led by her party MP Dr M. Thambidurai had taken up the issue with former I&B minister Ambika Soni and her successor Manish Tewari but Arasu failed to get a DAS licence despite assurances.

“A delegation led by Dr. M. Thambidurai, M.P., met Smt. Ambika Soni, the then Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting on 26.10.2012, who promised to issue the licence immediately. Afterwards, senior officials of the Government of Tamil Nadu also met the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, several times,” she alleged.

“As the issue of licence was further delayed, on my direction a delegation led by Dr. M. Thambidurai, M.P. met Shri. Manish Tewari, Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, on 27.11.2012, and requested him to expeditiously issue the Digital Addressable System licence as digitalization has to be completed within a time frame.”

She said that the Corporation has placed orders for the supply of Set Top Boxes, Conditional Access System and Subscriber Management System and erection of Head End at a cost of about Rs 500 million.

“Hence, I urge you to intervene in the matter and direct the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to issue the Digital Addressable System licence to the Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd immediately,” Jayalalitha averred.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, she said, had passed orders on 6 December that “the process of issue of licence to Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation may go on and the licence may also be issued."

The Arasu, which was lying defunct under the DMK regime, was revived by AIADMK government after it stormed to power in April last year.

It commenced cable TV services in all the 31 Districts of Tamil Nadu on 2 September, 2011 barring Chennai, which was a conditional access system area.

Arasu Cable is providing 100 channels to the subscribers at a cost of Rs 70 per month per subscriber. It has 23,000 local cable operators with a subscriber base of six million availing of the services of this corporation.

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