Consumers allege bid to sabotage government’s free set-top box scheme

Time: 2017-11-21
Consumers allege bid to sabotage government’s free set-top box scheme

TRICHY: The free set-top box scheme of the Tamil Nadu government has hit a roadblock with cable TV operators shifting their focus to those of private companies citing meagre profit in the government scheme. The issue prompted the public to file complaints against the operators for denying them a government scheme.
Since the time the digital set top box scheme of Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV) was inaugurated in September this year, the scheme failed to go down well with the operators registered in the district.
Aimed at providing cable TV set-top box connection to around 3 lakh households in Trichy, the state-wide scheme reached only 10% of the houses in one-and-a-half months.
"Our target is to provide connections to 3 lakh houses in Trichy. However, around 30,000 set-top boxes only were bought by the operators so far," tahsildar for TACTV, Trichy, S Sirajudeen told TOI on Monday.
The government scheme offers two packages for Rs 125 - 200 channels and Rs 175 - 300 channels with 18% GST. The set top box is provided free of cost with Rs 200 as activation and installation charges. "TACTV provides Rs 62.5 in the first package and Rs 100 in the second package to the operators. Despite providing a good profit, they are reluctant to order more set top boxes from us," said Sirajudeen.

The issue was being taken up with the district administration by various groups at regular intervals. On Monday, a group called Makkal Urimai Meetpu Iyakkam from the city complained to the collector K Rajamani against cable TV operators for compelling the public to go for private set top boxes.
"They have been pressurising us to buy private set top boxes instead of TACTV. They give false claims of frequent error in the telecast to avoid fixing the free set-top box. The monthly tariff in the private set top box is more than that of the free one," founder of the organization, M Basheer said.
Reacting to complaints from the public, a section of cable TV operators admitted to switching to private set top box operators citing low profit. "Though the government offers the set top box free of cost, we have to spend at least Rs 300 to rectify technical glitches in the wire connection.
Further, the high tariff with the GST is not attractive among the public," said a cable TV operator in Trichy on condition of anonymity.

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