The Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation, which is still to get a permanent digital license necessary for an MSO, is formally launching its digital system on 1 September 2017. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami is expected to grace the occasion.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) in April this year given a provisional MSO license to Arasu on the condition that it adopts DAS within three months, a condition that has been extended from time to time.

Taking the ground that it had failed to get an adequate number of digital set top boxes, TACTV or Arasu had sought extension for three months beyond mid-July, but the centre had only agreed to one month till 17 August 2017. Consequently, TACTV has been asked to complete the digitization process by 17 August failing which the provisional the "registration may be suspended/revoked."

According to an Arasu official, the real problem lay in the availability and seeding of seven million digital set top boxes, which may take more time. It had floated tenders in this connection to get India-made STBs. Arasu is aiming at six million standard definition (SD) set-top boxes and one million high definition (HD) set top boxes.

The proposed TV services, 300 channels to start with that would be expanded to 500 will be in MPEG 4 standard definition. About 30 TV channels would be beamed in HD, while there would be also provision for 20 FM audio services.

Though the regional party in Tamil Nadu AIADMK, which regained hold over Tamil Nadu few years back, had promised to give free STBs to subscribers as part of its election campaign, Arasu sources said a final call on that will be taken by the chief minister.

AIADMK, a political ally of the ruling BJP-led coalition in New Delhi, is presently in turmoil and witnessing intra-party churning.

Few days back, local cable operators had held a protest rally against Arasu alleging that it was being handed favourable treatment by MIB and that distribution of free STBs would upset the business model other players in the state.

Meanwhile, the government is still to take a final decision on repeated reports by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India that states, political parties, and religious groups should not be permitted in broadcasting or distribution sectors.- India DTH