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Consumers suffer as cable TV turf war hots up
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CHENNAI: The turf war between cable TV operators affected several thousand consumers spread over different residential hubs in the city on Wednesday.

As miscreants went about snapping the overhead cables of Hathway and its operators in Koyambedu, Arumbakkam, Anna Nagar, Nungambakkam, Choolaimedu, Palavakkam and Neelankarai on Tuesday night, more than 25,000 households went without cable TV transmission for more than 12 hours.

"By Wednesday evening, we managed to set right services in most areas except on East Coast Road," said a senior executive of Hathway. "In many places, our cables were chopped into small pieces, like vegetables on a cutting board," he said, alleging that over the past two months cables were cut in 300 places in Chennai and 30 complaints were preferred with the police. "However, only on two occasions did police register an FIR. In a couple of cases, we even took a video of people cutting cables. But the police still refuse to take action," he said.

Residents, too, were unhappy at the sudden snapping of transmission. P Kannan, a resident of Arumbakkam, said, "I was disappointed when I couldn't see the one-day match between India and New Zealand." S Sridevi, a resident of Royapettah, who two weeks ago had received no cable transmission for 48 hours at a stretch, said that after repeated calls to the cable operator, he said it was a matter of business rivalry. "Finally, he came to our house with a different set top box (STB). Though I did not want to change my service provider, I did not have an option. Now, the operator gives me a bouquet of channels which I hardly watch. Of course, he charges Rs 30 more than what he used to."

Another Hathway executive said: "In the city, we had close to 800 operators in our network and one lakh households with STBs. Last year, we spent Rs 50 crore to upgrade our systems and provide free STBs to 50,000 houses. All that money has gone down the drain as nearly 600 operators have moved out of our network over the past two months fearing cutting of cables by miscreants. On Monday, 80 operators in the Triplicane region left us after their cables were cut. On Wednesday, we lost another 60 operators. We had to remove cables along a 50-km stretch in North Chennai to save them from damage. As of now, we are left with a few operators in K K Nagar, Tambaram, Pallavaram, Chromepet and Kilpauk."

City police commissioner K Radhakrishnan, when contacted, said, "These areas come under the joint commissioner (central). I will ask him to look into the issue."

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