Chennai cable ops to file fresh petition challenging Govt‘s notification on DAS

MUMBAI: The Chennai Metro Cable Operators Association (CMCOA) is all set to file a fresh petition challenging the notification of digitisation issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) in April this year.

CMCOA General Secretary M R Srinivasan told that the two member bench of Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Aruna Jagadeesan told the cable operators to file a fresh petition against the government notification of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 2012.

"We will file a new petition challenging the government‘s notification order," Srinivasan said.

The CMCOA had filed a petition seeking postponement of cable digitisation in Chennai by at least three months till 31 January citing shortage of set-top boxes (STB). The deadline for the first phase of digitisation in the four metro cities was 31 October.

The Madras High Court had on 31 October stayed the digitisation in Chennai till 5 November. The Court again extended the deadline till 9 November following which it was again put off till 19 November.

The Court had on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of CMCOA‘s petition to Wednesday due to recusal of Justice P.P.S. Janarthanaraja from the case. The judge recused himself from the case citing possible conflict of interest since his son works for Sun TV, whose lawyer is representing one of the respondents in the case.

Justice Janarthanaraja, along with Justice Paul Vasanthakumar, was expected to hear the petition. This will now be heard by the new bench comprising Justice Dharma Rao and Jagadeesan.

CMCOA‘s Srinivasan said that the local cable operators (LCOs) in Chennai are a confused lot since state-run Arasu Cable, the dominant MSO in the state, is yet to receive a DAS (digital addressable system) licence for Chennai.

The cable operators like in other parts of Tamil Nadu can‘t align with any other MSO other than Arasu. He also reasoned that the LCOs will not buy STBs from any other MSO fearing that if Arasu gets the licence then all their investments would go waste.

"LCOs in Chennai have no choice but to go with Arasu. The I&B ministry should take a decision whether or not it wants to give a licence to Arasu. This will at least bring some clarity," he lamented.

As many as 11 MSOs have got DAS licence to operate in Chennai.

In the event of Arasu failing to get a DAS licence, the LCOs would take a call independently on their MSO partner, Srinivasan said. But for that the government needs to take a decision immediately, he added.

As had reported, the MIB is having second thoughts on granting licences to Arasu fearing that similar demands might come from other state governments.

Add to that the latest diktat by MIB to the broadcast sector regulator Trai to bring rules in place to keep a check on monopolies in the cable TV distribution space at a local, state and regional level.

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