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Cable operators' protest affects subscribers

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, JULY 15. Television screens across the city went blank at 7 p.m. on Thursday as 1,200 cable operators switched off telecast of all channels through the cable mode in protest against the decision of Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) to cut all "illegal" cables drawn from its poles. An estimated eight lakh subscribers were affected by the protest.

"The strike is indefinite and it will be intensified and spread to the other centres if the Government does not stop this drive and invite us for negotiations," a spokesperson of the Karnataka State Cable TV Operators Association, Sudhish Kumar, told The Hindu.

Mr. Kumar said the cable operators had lost about Rs. 1 crore after BESCOM started cutting cables drawn from its poles. BESCOM's decision followed the electrocution of seven-year-old Anish in Indiranagar II Stage. Seeking compensation from BESCOM, he said, "We do not understand why we are being penalised. The cable operators have generated revenue of several crores of rupees for the Government. We pay BESCOM for every electric pole we use. We pay the Government service tax, entertainment tax, income tax and small-scale industries tax. The industry has given jobs to lakhs of unemployed youth."

He said there were cables belonging to BESCOM, Telecom, Internet users and cable operators on the electric pole that caused the boy's death in Indiranagar. "How can they say it is our cable that killed the boy?" he said.

Mr. Kumar said if it was a cable TV line which killed the boy, then at least some television sets connected to it should have been damaged because of the high voltage. "No such incident was reported from the area," he claimed.

BESCOM drive

BESCOM launched a drive against cables illegally drawn from its poles on Wednesday, a day after Anish was electrocuted.

A BESCOM official said, "Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) gave the cable companies permission to string their wires across our poles. Now, we have asked the companies to go to the sub-division concerned to prove they have the permission. And at the moment, we are removing all the cables because we do not know which cable belongs to which company. We do not even know which is legal."

BESCOM had been planning a survey of the cables in the city. "We did not do anything about it because nothing untoward happened. But then the child got electrocuted so we are removing all the cables." Though Anish's death was under investigation, BESCOM believed the cable wire had come in contact with a streetlight phase wire. "We are not at fault here," the official claimed.

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