Saturday, 28 December 2013

Arasu Cable issues switch-off notice, seeks reduction in subscription fee from Media Pro

State-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation is embroiled in a bitter tussle with India’s largest content aggregator Media Pro Enterprise India over subscription fee payout. 
Arasu has threatened to switch off the Media Pro distributed channels which include the Star, Zee and Turner bouquet of channels. The multi-system operator (MSO) has issued a 21-day mandatory disconnection notice informing its subscribers and linked local cable operators (LCOs) that the Media Pro distributed channels are liable for disconnection due to breach of letter of acceptance and non-conclusion of price negotiation. The public notice was issued on 25 December. 

According to a source close to the development, the state-owned MSO is asking for a 50 per cent reduction in subscription fee from Media Pro, something the aggregator is loath to concede, thus triggering the deadlock. 
Arasu’s current payout to Media Pro is Rs. 45 million per month, the source said. Both Media Pro chief operating officer Gurjeev Singh Kapoor and Arasu Cable TV Corporation managing director J Kumaragurubaran refused to comment on the matter. 
The two parties are still engaged in hectic negotiations to break the deadlock. 
Arasu has been using its dominant presence in Tamil Nadu to drive down its content cost. The MSO has been resisting increases in programming costs, including those from Sun TV Network. 
Arasu currently pays Rs. 2.5 crore ( Rs. 25 million) per month to carry Sun TV Network’s bouquet of 33 channels across four languages on its network. The Kalanithi Maran-promoted TV network is seeking to get an increase from Arasu in a fresh deal. 
Arasu, which provides cable TV services at Rs. 70 per month, has a subscriber base of 6.21 million as of 1 September 2013. It has an operator base of 24,619 spread across the state. Arasu provides around 100 channels that include free-to-air (FTA) channels, pay channels and local cable channels. 
Earlier this month, the Madras High Court had asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to take a decision on Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation’s DAS licence. While restraining the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India from taking any coercive action for transmitting analogue signals in Chennai, it had also asked the MIB to expedite Arasu’s DAS licence application.

Source: Television Post, 28 December


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