TRAI keeping watch over Arasu, TN MSO extends digital hardware bids deadline

NEW DELHI: The government and the regulator are keeping a close watch on Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation to see whether it sticks to the deadline of three months to digitise its networks even as the state government-controlled MSO extended the date for submission of bids for acquiring digital headend hardware to 9 June 2017.

A source at the regulator TRAI told that it was “watching” to see how the situation developed in Tamil Nadu, adding that it would step in if the situation demanded it.

Arasu was given a provisional digital addressable system MSO license earlier this year subject to the condition that it digitises its network within three months so it could phase out analogue TV signals and be at par with the rest of the country. The official sunset date of analogue services in India was 31 December 2016, which was extended to end-March 2017 by the government keeping in view some hiccups in seeding digital boxes in rural and semi-urban areas.

According to an official announcement by Arasu, which is running a scroll on its website, the last date for a global tender for supply of standard definition (SD), high definition (HD), triple play STBs, etc has been extended to 9 June 2017 from 29 May 2017. Arasu plans to acquire 70 million digital addressable STBs of which 10 million will be HD boxes.

Though the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has at least three times in the last decade expressed a view that political parties, politicians and state governments, amongst a host of other category of people, should not be allowed to get into the business of broadcasting or distribution of TV services, successive governments, including the present one, have dithered to take a final call on the regulator’s suggestions.

While handing out provisional license to Arasu earlier this year, the union minister M Venkaiah Naidu had said the conditional green signal was given with an aim to cover the entire country under DAS and specifically done in “public interest”.

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