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Multi system operators join hands, favour CAS across the State
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[Image: 2009091651051701.jpg]
Digitalisation: The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr M.K. Alagiri, and the President of the Multisystem Operators Association of Tamil Nadu, Mr B. Jayaraman, at the inauguration of the association’s office, in Chennai on Tuesday.

Chennai, Sept. 15 To compete with DTH players effectively, Multi System Operators (MSO) in Tamil Nadu have come together to demand the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry to declare the entire State as CAS (conditional access system) area.

On Tuesday, MSOs in the State and cable TV operators formed an association – Multisystem Operators’ Association of Tamil Nadu. According to Mr B. Jayaraman, President of the united body, there are 10 major MSOs operating in one or more districts and more than 500 MSOs cater to smaller areas in the State.

He says though over 450 channels are available in the air to be down linked, due to carriage capacity constraints MSOs are able to give a fifth of the available channels. “Digitalisation of the cable network is the only solution to this,” he said. Also, he said by digitalising the cable network, consumers too can choose only the channels they want to watch. Currently, cable operators give consumers a bouquet of channels irrespective of that whether the consumer wants them all. This results in huge payouts by MSOs to broadcasters. For example, Mr Jayaraman says, MSOs in the State collectively pay Rs 20 crore every month to Tamil channel broadcasters.

After paying other broadcasters, cable operators are left with no choice but to take home only 10-15 per cent of what they collect from cable subscribers in their networks.

DTH penetration

Adding to this, the DTH penetration has brought down the demand for cable connections by 20 per cent. If the cable network is digitalised and set-top boxes issued to every cable TV home, the consumer has to pay only for the channels he or she watches and not for the entire bouquet.

“Besides, the quality will also be superior to the current analogue system. In Tamil Nadu, though digitalisation of cable network started way back in 2004, its snail-phased process could cover only 7 per cent of the total cable TV homes in the State due to the need for heavy investment in setting up a digital control room and expensive set-top boxes. “Hence, we have come on one platform today to represent our case to the Government,” said Mr Jayaraman.

The association now seeks to accelerate the process of digitalisation, tax and excise holiday for three years to all imports of equipment (including set-top boxes) and other demands such as right of way for laying cables.

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