Cable TV

Cable ops still not recognised: Mumbai LMOs

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MUMBAI: Different perspectives were presented by top Sena leaders and prominent cable operators in the city during the meeting organised by CODA (Cable Operator and Distributor Association) held at Rang Sharda auditorium in Mumbai.

Some cable operators urged Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray to ensure that the fraternity gets industry status (read as finance) whereas others wanted him to protect them from future dangers such as DTH, HITS and broadband.

A consumer's viewpoint was offered by Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai who occupied the dais with Sena working president Uddhav Thackeray, Sena member of parliament Sanjay Nirupam, CODA president and Sena Vibhag Pramukh Anil Parab, amongst others.

In a hard hitting speech, Desai stated: "Cable operators and consumers are sailing in the same boat at present. Only Balasaheb Thackeray can ferry it to safety. We fail to understand why the government is doing dalaali (acting as a middleman)? If the Raja (king - in this case government) acts like a vyapaari (businessman), then the praja (citizens) will be bhikari (beggars)? The government shouldn't try to make the grahaks (consumers) girakh (customers)!"

Sena worker and cable operator Pradeep Chitre (from Chembur, a central suburb in Mumbai) in his speech said: "The cable operators were like the fabled rabbit who created chaos because he felt that the sky would fall on his head. Balasaheb has saved us from calamities - current (CAS) and forthcoming ones (DTH, HITS, broadband). He has decided to back 600 cable operators as well as the 600,000 cable consumers."

In an emotionally charged speech, Chitre said: "I remember the time when we started our business by buying a decoder and dish for Rs 30,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively. We ran from door to door trying to accumulate this money. Even now, our status hasn't changed and we still don't get loans."

Refuting allegations that cable operators act like rowdies, Chitre said: " I started collecting Rs 50 per month from cable consumers and even today I charge anything between Rs 125 and Rs 150. Like other cable operators, I still never have 100 per cent collections - if I collect 60-70 per cent of the monies from consumers who think of new excuses to evade my collection boys - I can be happy. We always make concessions for those consumers who have genuine problems. We still have emotional ties with our consumers.Get me one cable operator who has misbehaved or stolen things from the consumer's household and we shall take him to task."

While speaking to indiantelevision.com, Sonali Cable proprietor and CODA committee member Suvarn Amonkar said: "The presence of Uddhav Thackeray on the dais along with senior Sena functionaries will send the right signal to Delhi and the I&B ministry officials that they cannot take us for granted. CAS is off in Mumbai till Balasaheb gives his consent. We shall work with Anil Parab to sort out the deficiencies in the present system." He was seconded by distributor Ganesh Hedge who had a large grin on his face at the end of the marathon meeting.

Another cable operator from Prabhadevi (in central Mumbai) on conditions of anonymity said: "Recently, the MSO representatives came to give us a tutorial on set top boxes, CAS billings so on and so forth. We showed them the door! After today, we won't even allow them to enter our premises if they want to talk about CAS."

The backslapping, cheering, congratulating and happy faces at the end of the session at Bandra's Rang Sharda auditorium was testimony to one thing - united we stand (with the Sena behind us); divided we fall.

It looks as if the last mile operators have got a shot in their collective arm with the Sena's open backing.

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