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Tamil Nadu cable TV industry incurs Rs 25 crore loss due to floods

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MUMBAI: ’Twas Mother Nature’s fury at full throttle when the state of Tamil Nadu was flooded by the heaviest rainfall it has been privy to in the last century. Many lives were lost even as over three lakh people became homeless.

While the southern state is slowly inching back to normalcy from the unprecedented rains and floods, which engulfed whatever came in its way, the natural disaster had a massive impact on the media and entertainment industry as well. The entire cable TV ecosystem was brutally affected by the calamity. It may be recalled that for the last couple of weeks, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India hasn’t received television ratings data from the region too.

In the light of this disaster, a senior cable federation member from Chennai estimates the overall loss suffered by the cable industry to be close to Rs 25 crore. “We have done an on-ground survey and after a thorough analysis, we came to the estimate. Local cable operators (LCOs) will have to bear the majority of the loss as most of the fibre amplifier devices, which were damaged belong to them,” he adds.

While industry body ASSOCHAM estimated the overall financial loss from the torrential rains and floods in Tamil Nadu to be in excess of Rs 15,000 crore, the Rs 25 crore loss to the cable industry may even be a conservative one. The on-ground reality indeed paints a grim picture.

“Thousands of fibre amplifiers got affected. The LCOs are trying their level best to restore services but the damage is so massive that it will take at least a week or 10 days more to get things back on track,” added a senior official from the cable fraternity.

A fibre amplifier, which is located in the operating room of cable operators, costs around Rs 3500 and a large number of them were totally destroyed as they immersed in the flood water. Fortunately, no instance of head-end damaged could be traced.

An independent multi system operator (MSO), who was also affected by the natural calamity, said, “The head-ends are generally placed at a good height and hence they got saved. But my transmitter is totally damaged. The flood has damaged cable operations brutally, and to restore services it will take me more than 15 days at least.”

“The transmitter costs Rs 50,000 and I have to invest in a new one,” he adds.

The other equipment that was damaged in the flood and needs serious investment is Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifier (EDFA), which is an optical repeater device used to boost the intensity of optical signals being carried through a fiber optic communications system. “I need to invest Rs 1.5 lakh in my EDFA and there are many other such operators who will have to change their EDFA,” said an LCO.

While some equipments may be under warranty, it is unlikely that the warranty applies in the case of natural disasters. A looming question is also that of insurance. All said and done, many LCOs and MSOs affected severely by the flood will have to bend over backwards in order to get their system back on.

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