Jayalalitha targets Sun TV

IN Regional Media | 23/01/2006
Ahead of assembly polls Jayalalitha moves against Sun TV, taking over its cable distribution business in the state.


Indo-Asian News Service

In a move fraught with serious political ramifications, the Tamil Nadu government on January 21  introduced legislation to take over two cable TV distribution companies - including one owned by the Sun TV group of late DMK leader Murasoli Maran`s family.

Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV) and Hathaway Cable TV, the other company being taken over, dominate the cable TV distribution business in the state.

At the same time, small street-level cable operators who have a very limited reach have been kept out of the Tamil Nadu Acquisition, Transfer and Taking Over of the Administration of Cable Television Network (including multiple service, optical transport system) Bill introduced by Law Minister D. Jayakumar.

The takeover of SCV, which brings to millions of households the 14 Sun Network channels, is likely to become a major bone of contention between Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha`s AIADMK and the opposition DMK in the run-up to assembly polls later this year. Murasoli Maran was DMK chief K. Karunanidhi`s nephew.

The Sun group is run by Murasoli Maran`s son Kalanidhi Maran, whose brother is Union Communications and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran.

The Mumbai-based Raheja`s own Hathaway Cable TV.

The government move came even as SCV Saturday announced that it had entered into an arrangement with TEN Sports to air the India-Pakistan test matches even for viewers whose televisions are not equipped with set-top boxes (STBs) for more than mandatory channels.

Only about 10 percent of Chennai`s TV viewers own STBs, which again are marketed by SCV.

Introducing the bill, Jayakumar said: "The government is in receipt of numerous representations complaining about the lack of proper cable TV network facility and the unsatisfactory manner of provision of facilities."

He said the complaints related to "collection of excessive and prohibitive charges with package channels being provided under heavy payment, disruption of telecast of certain channels, thereby preventing the public from viewing the same, and selective blurring of telecast of certain channels."

The government will consider ways of remedying the situation, Jayakumar said.

The minister justified the move by quoting the constitution, saying: "The executive functions of the state include not only determining policies in relation to matters governed by articles 162 and 298 of the constitution of India but also adopting the same for the welfare of the people."


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