Trai asked to expedite views on govt entities in cable TV after Jayalalitha letter

MUMBAI: The Information & Broadcasting ministry has asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to expedite the process of re-examining granting of Digital Addressable System (DAS) licence to a government or government-owned entity.

The move comes in the wake of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to expedite the matter of granting DAS licence to the state government-owned cable distribution company Arasu Cable TV Corporation, which has been hanging fire for more than five months.

"There is a larger question. I am aware of the concerns raised by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. The Members of Parliament have also come and met me. That is why we have requested the TRAI chairperson to expedite their consideration... so that we can take a conclusive decision at the earliest," I&B minister Manish Tewari said.

"We have referred the matter back to the TRAI for reconsideration as to whether the state government or the central government entities should be allowed in the broadcasting or the distribution business," Tewari added.

Arasu, the dominant MSO in Tamil Nadu, applied for DAS licence on 5 July but is yet to get the licence as the government is mulling whether or not to grant broadcasting or the distribution licences to government-owned entities.

The government has till date issued DAS licence to 11 MSOs in Chennai.

While acknowledging that Arasu was granted a license in 2008, he said that there was a recommendation from Trai which doesn‘t allow state government or their instrumentalities to enter distribution or in the broadcasting business.

Arasu has already placed orders for the supply of Set Top Boxes (STBs), Conditional Access System and Subscriber Management System and erection of Head-End at a cost of about Rs 500 million.

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 in its network with a subscriber base of six million.

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