Udaya refutes Karnataka cable ops' black out claims

BANGALORE: The Sun Network, Karnataka's leading private broadcaster by a long way, has dismissed as of little consequence the threats issued by a section of cable operators in the southern state to block its channels for having gone pay.

Sun Network's market leader Udaya TV, along with Udaya News and Ushe, became dearer by Rs 18 as of 1 August. Udaya TV became encrypted from 1 August, while the other two channels were already running as encrypted feeds.

Udaya , vice-president, Vijay Kumar asserts that the "ban" has been supported only by a few small cable operators and that it was only in a few "trouble spots" such as Hassan, Chickmagalur, and Shimoga that there was any problem. Vijay Kumar says that even at Hassan the signal was being broadcast as of 2 am today.

Dismissing the claims that Udaya TV was facing a major blackout of its channels, Vijay Kumar says, "Our signal is being received by 85 per cent of the state." Kumar further states, "As a matter of fact we have a number of people approaching us for decoder boxes, and we've had to refuse some operators because we don't agree with their figures pertaining to the number of connections declared by them."

Putting the issue in perspective, Vijay Kumar further goes on to say that these are problems faced by any channel that goes from free to air to pay mode.

A section of the cable TV operators across the state however, counter-claim that 85 per cent of Karnataka (excluding Bangalore) have been blacked out.

Piqued at the what he terms Sun TV's divisive policies a director of an MSO says, "These divide and rule policies are not fair at all, and, neither is it fair to the Kannada speaking people. How can they convert a local language channel into a pay channel? They are not headquartered in our state to understand the emotions of people of Karnataka on this issue. Also, if we allow one local language channel to be converted to a pay channel, other broadcasters may follow suit. As it is, the subscriber is burdened with high rates, how much more can we charge him?"

According to the Karnataka State Cable Operators Association spokesperson Ponnacha, the a letter will be handed over to Vijay Kumar in Bangalore today.

The cable operators associations from all districts are planning a State level meet in Bangalore shortly on this issue, probably on Monday, 9 August, according to cable industry sources.

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