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Delayed Arasu DAS starts, 7 mn subs to get 180 channels in Rs 125

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NEW DELHI: The Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV)’s digital operations  (DAS) were launched on 1 September with the inauguration of upgraded MPEG 4 control room and distribution of free set-top boxes. Around seven million Arasu subscribers will now have access to 180 channels in digital quality at a monthly subscription of Rs 125. The STBs will be distributed among users through local cable operators who can charge a one-time activation fee of Rs 200. The distribution of free STBs will be completed in three months, an official release said.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami formally launched the digital addressable system (DAS) at Nungambakkam in Chennai. Minister for information technology M Manikandan and chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan were also present.

The distribution of free STBs was a promise made in the last AIADMK party manifesto by the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

The Centre had in April this year given a provisional MSO licence to Arasu on the condition that it had adopts DAS within three months.

Taking the ground that it had failed to get an adequate number of digital set-top boxes, TACTV had sought extension for three months beyond mid-July, but the Centre had only agreed to one month -- till 17 August. Consequently, TACTV has been asked to complete the digitisation process by 17 August 2017 failing which the provisional the "registration may be suspended/revoked."

Its present application seeking a further extension is still pending with the information and broadcasting ministry.

Four monthly packages have been offered to subscribers, including paid and free-to air channels: 180 channels for Rs 125, 230 channels for Rs 175, 260 for Rs 225, and 300 for Rs 275. The subscription fee is exclusive of 18 per cent GST.

According to government advertisements in the local media, STBs come with a three-year warranty and TACTV is the only state-owned undertaking in India to offer STBs at no cost. TACTV is aiming at six million standard definition (SD) STBs and one million high definition (HD) STBs.

“The proposed TV services (300 channels to start and to be expanded to 500) will be in MPEG 4 Standard definition and 30 Television services in HD (MPEG4) and 20 FM Audio services with provision to add more SD & HD Channels in the near future,” according to the tender document issued in May this year when seeking STBs.

It also said the system will ultimately aim to broadcast 500 TV channels, including 50 HD channels and 20 FM audio Channels. The initial subscriber base is expected to be over 7 million.

Meanwhile, the central government is still to take a final decision on repeated recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India that states the political parties, and religious groups should not be permitted in broadcasting or distribution sectors.

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