Residents across Chennai hoping for a deadline extension for cable TV digitisation will have to live with the current deadline, as the Madras HC has refused to extend the deadline further. The Times of India reports that the Tamil Nadu government and local cable TV operators could not get the Madras HC to extend the deadline for cable TV digitisation beyond November 19. A bench comprising Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice S Rajeswaran refused to further extend the deadline on grounds that the interim order expired on November 19 itself. 

Earlier this month, the Madras High Court pumped in some more breathing time for the residents of Chennai to go digital and the deadline for cable TV digitisation was extended to November 19. The decision came days after the court granted Chennai an extension till November 5 from the earlier October 31 deadline after it was found that the digitisation process was far from complete. 

No more deadline extensions

No more deadline extensions for Chennai (Image credit: Getty Images)

Elaborating upon the turn of events leading to the deadline extension, reports at the time quoted Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar as opining that since the matter had public interest at heart, it should be heard by a division bench. Yesterday, quite a few writ petitions filed by the Cable Television Operators' Federation and multi-system operators (MSOs) were brought up for hearing. 

Quoting Senior Central Government Standing Counsel Haja Mohideen Gisthi, the report went on to add that the deadline has not been extended and that the process of digitisation would be put into action soon. 

It has been known that the state-owned Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited previously filed a counter-affidavit to get the  deadline extended to March 31, 2013. The corporation's General Manager, N Varadhan, revealed that steps were being taken to digitise cable TV services in Chennai, and it floated tenders for the purpose. 

In a rather interesting revelation at the time, P S Raman, Senior Counsel for Sun TV Network, stated that Sun Network had over 2 lakh set top boxes (STBs) in its possession. He added that it would take only 20 days to start distribution if the MSOs placed their orders. Raman even said that Sun TV Network had not been approached by any cable operator for STB supply, and hence claims of a shortage of STBs were false. 

According to Gisthi, the Centre “was prepared to extend the last date up to December 31 if an undertaking was given by the state government that it would implement digital access system (DAS) in Chennai within a time frame.” Gisthi also gave a copy of a letter written by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to the counsel.

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