Cable operators of Tamil Nadu are facing a great dilemma. State government has forced them to join ARASU, a government initiated MSO but I & B Ministry given it only a provisional license. In fact the regulator TARI has recommended that no government or political party should own any media venture. If Ministry accepts and notifies these recommendations, ARASU loses it license and will have to wind up its operations. Thus Cable operators who depend on its signals will lose their business.
The other MSO in the state, Sumangali of Sun TV group is an archrival of ARASU, being patronized by the opposition party DMK in the state. Thus fate of 30,000 cable operators of Tamil Nadu hang in balance as coming from ARASU, Sumangali may not accept them. Hence they lose either way. Not only this, their livelihood is in danger as they are not allowed to collect more than Rs 70 from, consumers per, TV set whereas due to inflation, their day to day functioning becomes difficult if they do not get an ARPU of Rs 150 per TV connection. At present, after giving the government Rs 20 they are left with only Rs 50 per subscriber.
To ensure that operators do not collect more than Rs 70, ARASU on 3rd February issued a note which stated those local cable operators (LCOs) and the multi-system operators (MSOs) using ARSU signal should necessarily issue serial-numbered receipts that it had supplied to them whenever they receive subscription from the customers. This had came into effect from February 5, note stated.
The TN government said that there will be strict action taken against cable operators associated with Arasu Cable Corporation if they charge beyond the Rs.70 fixed by the corporation. Starting Feb 5th 2014, new billing system would commence with new bill booklets issued to the cable operators. Any case of excess charge or non-issuance of bill would lead to strict action by the corporation against the LCO's.
J. Kumaragurubaran managing director of Arasu cable TV Corporation said that, the LCOs and MSOs should not issue any other receipt and should not charge more than stipulated subscription amount. Anyone found doing so would be liable to face strict action.”
However, LCOs in Tamil Nadu didn't welcome this ARASU move. They feel that Arasu has violated their fundamental right 'Right to Occupation'. On 5th February around 300 Local Cable Operators (LCOs) called for a 24 hours strike against Tamilnadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation move to issue serial receipt number to subscribers and directions not to charge more than Rs. 70 from customers.
The Tamizhaga Cable TV Operator General Welfare Association has condemned ARASU plan and requested Tamil Nadu Government to drop its plan on collecting subscription amount by using introduction of receipt books of Arasu Cable. The Association further stated that the government has taken this decision without consulting the Cable Operators Association.
However, official from Arasu Cable said that the implementation of the same was done to bring in clarity in the system. In the current scenario there is clarity on the number of household, the amount collected from each household etc, receipt book will only ensure all these problems are sorted out and there is transparency in the system.
However Subscribers in the state do not benefit anything from the stipulated charge of Rs. 70 as directed by the government. They often complain that the local cable operators are charging more than the stipulated charge and they are not issuing any serial number receipts to them. According to subscribers, the local operators are collecting subscription ranging from Rs.130 to Rs.140 per month from the subscribers. He said that most of the operators paid TACTV only for half the number of connections that they have, thus defrauding the Corporation.
On such complaints an officials of ARASU remarked that the LCOs have been asked to collect the official receipt books from the TACTV office in Sathuvachari, and many LCOs have allready collected the books. However, several operators were yet to collect the books from the office. He said that the TACTV would take action against the LCOs who charged monthly subscription in excess of the stipulated amount if the customers made complaints to the Corporation.
If the LCO failed to pay the amount, the officials said they would seized the transmitters and nodes from the LCO office so as to prevent them from relaying the signals of the various TV channels. The equipment will be returned only after they paid the due amount, he said. TACTV website says that as many as 90 - 100 channels were being made available to the subscribers for Rs. 70 a month and the response from the cable operators and public was overwhelming.