Zee-Turner cool to TN cable ops' blackout threat

NEW DELHI/ CHENNAI : The threat by Tamil Nadu's cable operators to switch off Zee Turner channels in two weeks due to the increase in subscription rates has not really creased the brows of Zee TV executives who confidently say the blackout will be averted.

Speaking to today, Zee Turner chief executive Sunil Khanna said, "I am not aware of any such threats by the cable operators," and added, "Even if there is some discontent amongst cable operators, wherever they may be, we are confident that such problems will be sorted out much before the deadline of 1 January arrives." 

Zee Turner, a 74:26 distribution joint venture between Zee Telefilms and AOL Time Warner company Turner International India, recently announced that the price of the Zee Turner bouquet of channels would be hiked from the existing rate of Rs 42 per month per subscriber to Rs 50, effective from New Year's day.

Media reports, quoting Tamil Nadu cable industry sources, had stated that cable operators affiliated with the Thamizhaga Cable TV Operator's General Welfare Association (TCOA), have planned a blackout of the Zee Turner bouquet in about two weeks. The association, which has almost 90 per cent of the state's cable ops as its members, is opposed to Zee TV's tariff hike only in the urban and semi-urban markets, where the concept of pay channels has found acceptability but not in the rural areas where it is yet to be established.

According to TCOA state president Sakilan, cable operators would find it very difficult to explain the constant price increase to the consumers. As the Zee-Turner bouquet doesn't have much of viewership in the state, except for Cartoon Network and CNN, blocking it will not have any major effect, he is reported to have said.

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