Madras HC admits plea against Arasu”s cable operations

The Madras high court on Tuesday admitted a petition challenging the notification of the government-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation inviting tenders for leasing multi system operators (MSO) to conduct cable TV business in Chennai and elsewhere in Tamil Nadu.

Admitting the petition, the first bench comprising chief justice A. P. Shah and V. Ramasubramanian posted the case to December 18 for further hearing. The government cable TV company is being seen as a weapon to demolish the near-monopoly of Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV) of the Maran brothers following their fallout with granduncle and chief minister M. Karunanidhi.

The petitioner, advocate R. Suresh Kumar contended that Arasu’s notification on November 30 this year was “illegal and ultra vires of the provisions of the Cable TV Network Act and Cable TV Network Rules 1994 insofar as it sought to call for tenders for the lease of MSO’s in Chennai in violation of the license conditions under rule 11 of the CTVN rules.”

Seeking an interim injunction against the notification, Suresh Kumar alleged that the state government was indulging in “illegal forbidden matters relating to exploitation of the cable TV network through leasing without undertaking the task (of MSO) on its own.”

This attempt was to “create a monopoly and prevent the existing operators in the Cable TV network both in Chennai and outside from carrying out a viable business.” The corporation was incorporated following a decision taken by the government on August 13 under the Companies Act, 1956 with the object of starting cable TV operations as MSO in Chennai and outside the city.

He claimed that MSO license was granted only to Hathway Cable & Data Com private Ltd, Indusin Media Communication Ltd and Kal Cables Pvt. Ltd in Chennai. Of them only the first and third were in operation.

The corporation was not legally authorised or competent to carry on the Cable TV network business without a license, he said.

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