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Popular channels off Arasu bouquet - Sathish - 09-02-2011

VELLORE: With Arasu Cable all set to be launched on Friday, operators are both upbeat and crestfallen. While they are relieved that the new government-owned multi-system operator (MSO) will break the domination of private operators in the cable TV market, they are wondering what to tell customers as some popular pay channels will not be part of the bouquet.

Accordingly, around 20 channels under the Sun group, 25 in the Star group, which include Tamil channel Star Vijay, UTV, ESPN and Ten Sports and other pay channels will not be on offer from September 2.

When contacted, the Tamizhaga Arasu Cable TV Operators’ General Welfare Association’s state treasurer, Dhamodharan, said convincing customers in the light of the absence of popular pay channels was difficult.

“We were informed that these channels would be broadcast soon. However, a timeframe for this has not been given,” he said and added that these popular channels earn more than 10 times from TRP ratings and advertisements than through subscriptions.

The Corporation has been ordered to collect only Rs 70 from customers. As a first step, of the 90 free channels, 65 will be aired from the first day itself. “But, there is no communication on the broadcast of pay channels and we are clueless about the cable charge in this regard,” Dhamodharan explained.

The operators were also not satisfied with the amount that has been fixed. Pointing out that the Corporation would take away Rs 20, they felt that it was impossible for any operator to meet his employees’ salary, repair of equipment, electricity bill, office rent and related expenses with a balance of Rs 50 per customer.

“We want to charge every customer Rs 100 along with providing some important pay channels. With this, we can give Rs 25 to the government and take Rs 75,” Dhamodharan suggested.

He said almost 50 per cent of customers would be covered at the start of the launch and around 80 per cent by the next month.

Arasu Cable will operate in all districts except Chennai, which is expected to get the licence for conditional access system.

Source: IBNLive.com