As promised by her during the polls, Jayalalitha has moved to demolish the Maran’s cable TV empire by banning private companies in the sector.
The government, in its address to the new legislative assembly, said it intends to privatize the cable TV network in the state.
Cable TV services will now be provided by the Arasu corporation, ironically set up by Karunanidhi himself when he fell out with the Marans.
“There has been overwhelming demand by the public for the immediate revival of the Arasu.. The government will revive its activities and nationalize the private cable TV activities in the state,” the Governor Governor S.S. Barnala said in his address to the assembly.
The Governor’s address is a statement of the priorities and programs of the new government.
The move will be a major blow for the Maran brothers as they control the biggest cable TV network in Tamil Nadu and one of the biggest in the country. The Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV) was under attack by the Karunanidhi government as well for a limited period when the Marans had fallen out with the DMK over a poll-controversy.
Going by the indication that it will be done without harming the small operator (last-mile), the Government is likely to impose conditions only on the MSO or aggregator level and not at the actual, ground level distribution level. India has a dual system of cable distribution, with the content being captured, processed and transported across large distances by MSOs and handed over to a local agent or distributor who also collects the revenue.
Arasu has gradually fallen into a state of limbo after Karunanidhi and the Maran’s patched up early last year. Maran’s Sun TV also delayed giving its channels to the Arasu corporation over various technical objections.
Sun owns the most popular channels in South India, including those in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, besides SCV. Besides the channels, the Maran brothers also run newspapers and a DTH network.
SCV is one of the most technologically advanced mega cable operator in India, pioneering the operator-of-operators model (MSO) more than a decade ago.