Television

Government proposes takeover of 6 more MSOs

MUMBAI: The Tamil Nadu Government today introduced in the Assembly an amendment to the Cable Television Network Bill to take over six more Multiple Service Operators (MSOs) in the state, besides the two major players -- Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV) and Hathway.

It was on Saturday that the Tamil Nadu government introduced a legislation giving it the powers to acquire and take over southern broadcast king Kalanithi Maran's Sumangali Cable vision (SCV) and Hathway Cable and Datacom (in which Star India has a 26 per cent stake). Today Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa (and bitter political rival of Maran's uncle M Karunanidhi) "spread the net wider" to include six more MSOs.

An amendment to the Cable Television Network Bill (tabled Friday) was moved today by information and publicity minister KP Anbalagan in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly for the take over of the following MSOs: Baba Cable Vision in Chennai, Thamizh Thai Cable Vision in Coimbatore, Ajai Cable TV and People's Cable Network in Madurai, Karan TV in Tirunelveli and Polymer Cable in Salem.

According to the Press Trust of India, the proposed Act would come into effect from a date to be notified by the government, but different dates might be notified for different areas.

Interestingly, legal experst that Indiantelevision.com spoke to pointed out that any legislative Act "cannot be impugned on the grounds of malafide." In other words SCV cannot argue in the courts against the Act that the actions of the Tamil Nadu legislature were directly aimed at crippling its business for instance. What the courts would have to decide on (assuming Maran takes legal recourse in the matter of course) is "whether it is in the competence of the legislature to pass such an Act."

This is significant because a source close to Sun TV, promoted by the Maran family, told Indiantelevision.com yesterday that Jayalalithas is trying to settle political issues by “encroaching on matters that are prerogative of the Central government.”

The source, considered close to the promoter Maran family, indicated that because an uplink application of Jaya TV (backed by associates of Jayalalitha) seeking to start a news channel is pending with the communication ministry (headed by Kalanithi Maran's brother and Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran), the chief minister is “applying unnecessary pressure.”

Meanwhile, there was chaos in the assembly and a walkout by the opposition DMK after Jayalalithaa alleged that Karunanidhi made a "clandestine" visit to the governor accompanied by Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran "to scuttle the government's decision to take over SCV".

Jayalalithaa plans to offer better terms for cable ops, broadcasters; lower charges for subscribers:

The Hindu has reported that the TN chief minister is planning "a new cable network regime that will lead to a substantial lowering of subscription charges for television viewers and more attractive terms for ordinary cable operators across the State."

The report states that if the Act were to come into force, rural viewers could end up paying as low as Rs 50 a month to cable TV operators while in small towns, the tab would not be over Rs 70 and in big cities around Rs 80.

Cable operators also stand to gain, the report says. Currently, they pay 50 per cent of the amount collected from the subscribers to the multi-system operators. This figure might be cut down to just 33.33 per cent.

And what if Jayalithaa fails to ram through the legislation? Then it will launch its own atatewide cable TV network modelled on the lines of Asianet's cabling of Kerala through a 10-year agreement with the Kerala State Electricity Board along electricity poles. 

Also Read:

Tamil Nadu government move 'politically motivated'



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