As DAS cut-off date nears, Tamil Nadu government-owned cable firms warns MSOs against disconnection

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Published: April 1, 2017 6:35:38 AM

TACTV, the Tamil Nadu government-owned cable TV company, has warned the major broadcasters and MSOs against disconnecting the signals, pending litigation in the Madras High Court.

The Union ministry of information and broadcasting had extended the cut-off date for Phase IV of digital DAS roll-out to March 31, 2017.

With the cut-off date for switching over to the digital addressable system (DAS) under Phase IV ending on Friday, Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV), the Tamil Nadu government-owned cable TV company, has warned the major broadcasters and multiple-system operators (MSOs) against disconnecting the signals, pending litigation in the Madras High Court. Reminding the broadcasters and MSOs of the Madras High court’s interim orders asking for the maintaining of the status quo, pending disposal of the cases and a decision by the I&B ministry on the company’s application for a DAS licence, TACTV said any act of disconnecting the signals of TACTV based on the I&B circular will be in violation of the order passed by the Madras High Court.

The Union ministry of information and broadcasting had extended the cut-off date for Phase IV of digital DAS roll-out to March 31, 2017 due to pending court cases and unsatisfactory progress of installation of set-top boxes (STBs). TACTV, the pet project of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa to end the monopoly of Maran brothers-owned Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV) had been denied a DAS licence by the Centre, pointing out that government-owned entities could not be granted a licence. The company had moved the Centre for a DAS licence when the government kickstarted the process of changing the analogue system to digital mode in the country.

Irked by the Centre’s delay, TACTV had subsequently moved the Madras High Court to expedite the process of granting the DAS licence to them, even as the Centre had many times postponed the deadline for completion of the process of entire digitisation of TV cable network in the country. Detailing the sequence of events, J Kumaragurubaran, MD, TACTV said that it has been continuously taking effective steps to digitise the cable TV services in Chennai metro and the rest of Tamil Nadu as well. It has applied for DAS licence on July 5, 2012 and November 23, 2012 and are closely following up with the Union information and broadcasting ministry. However, the issue of DAS licence to TACTV is still pending.

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The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendement Act, 2011, has made it mandatory to switch the existing analogue cable TV networks to DAS in four phases. Digital change-over has already taken place in Phases I, II and III. The I&B ministry had in 2016 extended the cut-off date for Phase IV cable digitisation to March 31, 2017.

“All the broadcasters, MSOs and local cable operators are hereby instructed to ensure that no analogue signals are transmitted ove the cable networks in phase IV areas after March 31, 2017, failing which action would be taken against the defaulters as per the provisions in the cable TV Act,” the I&B ministry said in a circular on Friday.

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