No salvation for Amma’s Arasu Cable under NDA either

One of Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha’s pet projects, Arasu Cable TV Corp is unlikely to get a cable operator license under the new government also, going by a statement from the ministry.

The process of cable TV digitization has been stuck in Tamil Nadu as the largest player by far, Arasu Cable, has not been given a digital cable TV license by the central government. The last, Congress-led government, which was close to Jayalalitha’s rival DMK party, had kept permission pending, and sent a reference to the telecom regulator asking if government-owned bodies should be allowed in cable TV sector.

The TRAI had replied with an emphatic no and said not just government-owned, but any company with any connection whatsoever with any political party should also not be allowed to operate as a cable distributor.

Arasu Cable had pinned its last hopes on a new government, which was expected to be dependent on Jayalalitha’s support, and was therefore expected to be more receptive to the request by Arasu TV for a cable MSO license.

However, with no need for outside support from the AIADMK party, the central government doesn’t seem to be in a mood to reverse the no-government, no-politician stance of the previous government.

“A request has been received from Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited, a Government of Tamil Nadu Public Sector Undertaking for grant of registration as MSO to operate in DAS notified areas of Tamil Nadu. The proposal is being examined in the light of recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regarding entry of Government entities in the broadcasting and distribution activities,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister for communication, said in the statement.

Interestingly, Tamil Nadu has one of the highest number of cable MSOs in the country. Out of 106 MSOs who have been granted permanent registration by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 32 MSOs have registration for operation in Tamil Nadu, though not all of them are Tamil Nadu-only players.