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Breather for MSO Kal Cables

Posted on Aug 28 2014 | IANS

Chennai, Aug 28 : In a brief respite for the city-based multi-system operator (MSO) Kal Cables Pvt Ltd, the Madras High Court Thursday has allowed the company not to run a scroll that its services would be cut in 15 days' time.

However, a question mark hangs over the households who have invested in set-top boxes (STB) to receive their satellite channel signals from Kal Cables affiliated cable operators.

Part of the Maran brothers' (Sun TV group' Kalanithi Maran, and former union minister Dayanidhi Maran) business ventures, Kal Cables is the cable television MSO - operator of multiple cable or direct-broadcast satellite TV systems - giving signals to local cable operators.

The information and broadcasting ministry had cancelled the MSO licence given to Kal Cables Aug 20. Kal Cables was one of the 17 MSOs so dealt with.

According to the ministry, the licence to Kal Cables was cancelled as the home ministry denied security clearance to the company.

The company was given licence to operate in Chennai in 2012 and a provisional licence to operate in other parts of Tamil Nadu in 2013.

The company had approached the Madras High Court to quash the central government order. The court posted the case for Sep 2 for further hearing.

The central government, which did not give any reason for the home ministry's refusal to grant the security clearance, is expected to submit this to the court.

Officials of Kal Cables were not available for comments when contacted by IANS.

Industry officials say that Kal Cables commands a major share of the market.

According to P.Shakilan of Tamizhaga Cable Operators Association, the Chennai city has around 40 lakh satellite channel subscriber base.

"Of that 10 lakh will be direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers and 30 lakh cable TV subscribers," Shakilan told IANS.

Out of the 30 lakh cable TV subscribers, nearly 15 lakh will be with Kal Cables and the balance shared by other MSOs like TCCL and others.

Queried about the fate of households who receive the signals from cable operators affiliated to Kal Cables, he said: "There are other cable operators affiliated to other MSOs from whom the connection could be obtained."

However there are around 1.5 lakh households with STBs connected to Kal Cables and the fate of their investment in the equipment is unknown.

If the court decides in favour of the central government, then it will be a big setback for the Sun TV group in the city as it would have to depend on other MSOs to reach its channels to households.

Kal Cables was sort of a captive arm for the Sun TV group of channels in the city and an entry barrier for other competing channels.

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