Cable TV

Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV and the Indian Government (TATCV)

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE,  February 2016 (ID. 2016-02-01)
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Tamil Nadu State owns Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TATCV) that distributes television (TV) signals in 31 districts in Tamilnadu for the past many years. TATCV has been asking Government of India Ministry of Information and Broadcasting license to distribute digital TV signals since 2012 (DAS - Digital Addressable System; this is a newer, better technology. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is yet to make a decision as of December 2015, although it has granted provisional licenses to 326 other companies that requested license after TATCV's request. Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and members of parliament (MP) from Tamil Nadu have also asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to grant license to TATCV and nothing has happened. Then, in 2015, the Indian Government told TATCV that TV signals distributed to larger cities such as Chennai will have to be digitized by December 31, 2015 or the TV signals of TATCV will be disconnected (The New Indian Express; December 22, 2915); in other words TACTV will not be able to serve the people in the larger cities. Result would be increased cable TV charges for consumers because prices may go up without the competition from state government owned TATCV. Eventually courts would force the Indian government to approve TATCV but in the meantime wasted time, money and consumer hardship.

Let us look at the situation. Tamil Nadu state government owned TACTV applies for license to distribute digital TV signals in 2012, Indian government does not grant the license even after 3 years (although it granted provisional license to 326 other cable companies that applied for license after the Tamil Nadu government), then it is going to stop Tamil Nadu government's TACTV in the larger cities because TACTV is not distributing digital signals. Indian government is yet to give a reason for the 3 years delay. It seems that the Indian Government Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is determined to stop Tamil Nadu government from distributing TV signals to Chennai and other large cities by delaying license to TACTV and permitting only private companies. As the December 31, 2015 deadline was approaching TACTV asked Madras High Court to prevent the Indian government from disconnecting its TV signals in Chennai and other cities. When the petition was heard in December 2015, Indian government lawyers told the court that they need more time to respond. Judges postponed the case to early January 2016 and asked the Indian government to allow TACTV to continue its distribution of TV signals as before (The New Indian Express; December 22, 2915).

We want to point out that Indian government operates large number of Television Channels through Doordharsan all over India but state governments are not allowed to broadcast TV. Now it is trying to stop Tamil Nadu government from even distributing cable TV signals through delaying tactics. It is unfair, unjust and discriminatory.

In a country like India where most states are countries in themselves with distinct languages and cultures, television (over-the-air broadcasts, cable and satellite) should be under state governments and not the Indian government. Otherwise arbitrary, high-handed actions by the Indian government will happen. We suggest that radio and television be moved from under the Indian central government to state governments. Devolution of power to state governments is needed.

Additional Information:

We want to point out that the Indian Government has used delaying tactics to unfairly hurt the Tamil Nadu State in the past too. Here is an example.

In the late 1990s, Indian Government Union Ministry of Surface Transport delayed for years the approval of an integrated Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal and 2,000 MW power plant project at Ennore. Several requests from Tamil Nadu State Government to Indian Government Surface Transport Ministry did not get the necessary approval. Delay continued. So Chief Minister of Tamilnadu wrote to Indian Prime Minister on September 1, 1998 telling him that "lack of response (about the delay) was disconcerting'' and informed him that the delay would impose "enormous financial risks on the State Government" (The Hindu; September 4, 1998). The project was funded by the Tamil Nadu government (not a cent from the Indian government). All that Tamilnadu wanted was approval on a timely fashion without delay. Yet the Indian government delayed and delayed the project costing the people of Tamil Nadu money. That is why we want that approval of power plants and other projects benefiting the people of Tamil Nadu should be up to the state government.

SUMMARY: How Indian Government's interference in cable TV distribution in Tamil Nadu adversely affects Tamil Nadu cable TV subscribers.

Thanjai Nalangkilli

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