Chennai: With state-run cable operator Arasu Cable TV Corp. Ltd yet to be digitized, television viewers in Chennai will have to wait longer than their counterparts in other metropolitan cities for digital content to be beamed into their homes—if the Tamil Nadu government has its way.
Starting 1 July, cable operators in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai have to transmit television signals in an encrypted format through a digital system, which will require the installation of a set-top box in TV-viewing households.
“The government will be writing to the central government to postpone the implementation of digitization in Chennai to 31 December 2012,” said a senior official in the Tamil Nadu government who didn’t want to be named.
In September, Arasu Cable’s operations were revived by Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa to break the monopoly of Sun TV Network Ltd’s cable arm SCV. Its services were rolled out throughout the state with the exception of Chennai, which is under the conditional access system that requires TV households to have a set-top box to view pay channels.
“We are in the process of tendering (for) 2.5 million set-up boxes, which will be done in a phased manner,” said D. Vivekananda, managing director of Arasu Cable TV.
Vivekandana said it will be difficult to meet the digital TV deadline because the procurement and setting up of digital systems will take longer. On the price front, the cable network expects to beat direct-to-home television operators.
Digitization will offer cable TV subscribers a choice of 500 channels, he said. Arasu Cable currently offers 100 free channels for Rs.70 a month.
The state-run cable operator had collected monthly subscriptions amounting to Rs.31.67 crore from local cable operators and multi-system operators as of 30 April. This is in addition to the advance payment of Rs.25.97 crore collected from local cable operators and multi-system operators, according to the state information technology department.
Arasu Cable had 4.95 million subscribers on 30 April against 494,000 on 2 September.