Chennai: After last week’s launch of direct-to-home (DTH) service for Rs75 in Tamil Nadu, Sun Direct might hike its monthly subscription, facing pressure from cable television operators.
Sun Direct officials have given an assurance that they will increase the price of subscription by two-thirds to Rs125 per month after the current offer ends this month, said D.G.V.P Sekar, coordinator of the Federation of Cable TV Associations (TFCTA).
Sun Direct is an 80:20 joint venture of Sun TV Networks promoter Kalanithi Maran and Malaysian company Astro All Asia Networks Plc.
When implemented, this would address the concerns of the cable TV operators, Sekar said. Sun TV Network and Sun Direct officials declined to comment.
Cable operators in Tamil Nadu, united in protest against the introduction of the low-priced DTH service by Sun Direct, appeared to have split over the issue of setting up their own facilities to distribute satellite TV channels.
All the associations have expressed willingness to work with the government’s proposed distribution arm, Arasu Cable TV Corp. Ltd. They are demanding that Sun should either offer cable TV or DTH, and should not be permitted to offer both.
At present, Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV), a cable TV distribution arm of Sun Group enjoys a near monopoly position in most parts of Tamil Nadu.
Thamizhaga Cable TV Operators General Welfare Association and Tamil Nadu Cable TV Urimayalargal Sangam (Tancus) have decided to set up their own control room to receive and distribute channels in the state.
“We want to protect our interests and don’t want to depend on Sun for signals to run our operations,” said Kayal R.S. Elavarasu, president of Tancus.
However, TFCTA objects to this move, claiming assets worth Rs50 lakh were destroyed in Nagercoil, a southern district of Tamil Nadu, and a member-run control room was forcibly taken over in Madurai. “We too oppose Sun’s entry into DTH service. But, setting up operations through violence is condemnable,” said Sekar.
Elavarasu of Tancus rejected these charges, saying infrastructure was set up through voluntary collection from individual cable TV operators.
He added it would close operations when Arasu begins operations, and termed its current strategy a temporary move to protect its interest.