The Tamil Nadu government-owned multiple system operator (MSO) Arasu Cable Corporation will start operations in Chennai from November.
Chief minister J Jayalalithaa is expected to launch the control room for the corporation here on Saturday, said industry and government sources.
There are around 4 million connections in the Chennai market, which is controlled by six licensed MSOs and around 1,500 cable operators, according to industry estimates. The corporation would soon start distributing set-top boxes to the customers in the Chennai market, ahead of government's cable digitisation deadline for four metros – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata – which is October 31, sources added.
The company has got the approval from the Centre to start operations in Chennai after infrastructure for cable digitisation was set up. This can offer up to 500 channels to the viewers as against 80 now. According to experts, the key challenge to digitisation of Cable TV services is sourcing enough set-top boxes at a rate affordable to the end users. There is limited visibility in the industry at this point whether it would meet the deadline again -- earlier extended from June to October.
Arasu was relaunched by the AIADMK on September 2, 2011, to take over cable operation in the state. It had commenced operations across the state except Chennai since it was under conditional access market. Tamil Nadu is one of the biggest television markets in the country estimated at Rs 12,220 crore and is expected to touch Rs 22,540 crore by 2016, according to a Deloitte-Ficci report.