Karunanidhi defends denial of licence to Arasu

MUMBAI: DMK chief M Karunanidhi has come out in support of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for not giving Digital Addressable System (DAS) licence to the Tamil Nadu government-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation.

Karunanidhi, who had set up Arasu Cable TV Corporation during his reign as chief minister, said the UPA government was going by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India?s (Trai) recommendation that prevents government or government-owned entities from entering the television broadcasting or distribution business.

"The Centre can decide on issuing DAS Licence only based on the recommendations of Trai guidelines. Trai had recommended that Centre and state governments should not involve in cable TV broadcasting," he said in an interview to party mouthpiece ?Murasoli?.

He also expressed disdain at Jayalalithaa?s accusation that the government was deliberately not issuing licence to Arasu in order to benefit his family.

The DMK chief also said it was not proper on her part to make such remarks at the National Development Council meeting.

Jayalalithaa had at the National Development Council (NDC) meeting recently lambasted the government for deliberately holding licence in order to a ?political? family in a veiled reference to Karunanidhi and his family.

Arasu is yet to receive a DAS licence to operate in Chennai despite repeated plea by the state government and AIADMK MP?s, who taken the issue to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well. Arasu had applied for a DAS licence in July.

Karunanidhi and his family hold considerable interest in television and distribution business in Tamil Nadu. While Karunanidhi?s family owns Kalaignar TV, his grand nephew Kalanithi Maran owns the Sun Group, which has interests in television, print, radio, DTH and cable distribution.

Pertinently, Trai had on 28 December reiterated its November 2008 recommendation that central and state governments or entities owned by them should not be allowed to be in broadcasting and television channel distribution businesses.

The regulator had submitted its recommendations to the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry on "Issues related to entry of government or government entities into the business of broadcasting and/or distribution of TV channels".

It also reiterated its view that the government should provide an appropriate exit route to government or government-owned companies which have already been accorded permission to carry on the business of television channel distribution.

The recommendations are expected to impact Arasu, which had received licence in 2007 to operate in Tamil Nadu.

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