Chennai, Feb. 6: Though the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting says that metro cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai) will become digital by June 30, 2012, it does not seem possible.
“We may miss the deadline as it calls for an investment to the tune of Rs 300 crore to procure set-top boxes, set up head-ends and control rooms,” said Mr D. Vivekanandan, Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd.
According to him, though the State Government is not against the digitisation, the delay may be indispensible. The Government, in fact, is yet to make a policy decision on this, he said. As far as the optical fibre cable networking is concerned, “We can hire cable bandwidth from the telecom operators in the city who already have established cable network here. But procuring set-top boxes could be an issue.” He said there are a little over 25 lakh C&S (cable and satellite) homes in Chennai. Of this, 2.5 lakh homes have DTH connections, and another 2.5 lakh homes have cable connections with set-top boxes. “This leaves a whopping 20 lakh homes to be provided with set-top boxes in the next five months, which seems not workable,” he said.
Arasu Cable recently took a decision to foray into the city, following which close to 2,000 LCOs (local cable operators) with a subscriber base of 8.75 lakh, have registered with the corporation. Overall, in the State, 1.13 crore subscribers have registered with the corporation. Of this, 35 lakh homes are already connected, “and we are adding a few thousands every day. Before the end of next month, the number will double,” he said.
With the Raj TV bouquet, which came on board very recently, it carries a total of 97 pay channels and over 50 free-to-air channels. “The talks with Sun TV is still on, and we hope to get them on board too,” said Mr Vivekanandan.