Cable blackout in Mumbai ends

MUMBAI: Cable television is finally back in Mumbai after almost two days. However, movie channels, as well as Hindi entertainment channels Star One and Sahara One, remain on the blink.

A compromise was reached late this evening after the Cable Operators and Distributors Association (Coda), which represents local cable ops, as well as representatives of the various multi-system operators, met Maharashtra home minister RR Patil.

The cable fraternity's contention has been that since they are only service providers, and not content producers, they require "clear cut regulation from the government for the telecast of movie channels."

According to a cable operator who preferred to remain anonymous, all the networks were restoring cable services barring those of the nine channels that triggered the imbroglio in the first place. “We will wait for the verdict, which will be heard tomorrow (Wednesday) by Justice Lohda (before deciding on the next course of action),” he said.
Cable operators have filed an intervention petition in the Bombay High Court asking why broadcasters and direct-to-home operators were not being taken to task by the authorities. The petition is scheduled to come up for hearing tomorrow.

Earlier in the day, cable operators were running a scroll informing viewers of the reasons behind the suspension of services. "Due to unprecedented raids on cable operators for carrying satellite movie and entertainment channels having adult content, all Maharashtra cable operators have shut down these channels till further directions from the High Court and commissioners. Kindly bear with us." -- Cable Operators and Distributors Association.

The channel blackout was not total all over Maharastra though. Besides Mumbai, other parts of the state - such as Nasik, Pune, Thane and New Mumbai - were affected to varying degrees by the channel blackout. In Pune, for instance, the cable networks only discontinued the transmission of movie and music channels.

Cable services were halted last evening after the Mumbai police raided cable TV control rooms and seized the decoder boxes of nine channels charged with showing adult content. Among these were Hindi and English movie channels (Zee Cinema, Star Movies, HBO, Filmy, Star Gold, AXN and Max), and Hindi entertainment channels Star One and Sahara One.

Police said the operators were raided because they were showing adult films, despite there being a ban on them. At least three million homes were affected by the blackout.

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