Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More on Comet Saga

Given below is some information about the Comet Cable Saga that was posted as a comment on this blog several days ago. We are unable to exactly clarify the information stated but the information stated here is in line with what we have received from independent sources. We like to thank our fellow blogger "Rupert" for this information.

Dear Comet Cable Bloggers/Customers,

These are the facts I gathered from various sources about Comet Cable.

Comet Cable started its operation of Pay TV in 1997 with share holders from Australia, Canada & Sri Lanka Govt. (90% Chalmway & 10% SL Govt. owned SDA)Within about 2 years the company ran into financial problems mainly due to embezzlement of funds by the then management. Then shareholders invited the Hettiarachchi Group to invest US $ 500,000/ to bail out the company. In return they were promised the management & shares. Although the management was given they were not given the promised shares. However Hettiarachchi group without informing the share holders issued themselves shares & got into trouble. In 2004 the owning company in Australia, Chalmway filed action against the Hettiarachchi group in Commercial High Court in Sri Lanka. After a bitter battle in courts, Chalmway got the ruling in their favor. They moved into Comet somewhere in July 2005.But since Hettiarachchi group appealed the judgment, the Registrar of Companies refused to validate the Chalmway nominated directors.

Comet was running smoothly till the year 2007 June. James Scobie as CEO was running the company with the help of another Aussie citizen, Gerry Junkeer (Sri Lankan). Also on the directorate was Christopher Rodrigo known as Chris apparently he is also a model & a pimp (who supplies girls to top guys) appears in Dettol TV advert. Suresh Edirisinghe of Auto Court, Chaminda Perera, CEO, Swedish Trading Company, Anton de Alwis, Thilak Baddewela Retd.SSP. Gamini Gunawardena ex-banker.

In June 2007 they sold the company with the licenses to an Indian company called United Telecom Ltd (UTL) for US$ 1.9mil. Then the troubles began.
• Chalmway couldn’t transfer shares because of ongoing cases.(Also they didn’t want to transfer after taking the money)
• Junkeer & Scobie fell out over money. Junkeer has filed cases in Aussie against Scobie’s company. Now they are fighting for their own pound of flesh.
• Indians couldn’t file a case because they had brought in this money illegally to Sri Lanka(They hadn’t declared this money in India)
• Then walks in a man by the name of Rohan Wijetunge, owner of Zanzibar night club, claiming that he has very close connection to the first family, was promised US$ 500,000/ by Scobie & Junkeer to silence Govt owned SDA & other Govt bodies & he has done the job & was not paid. So he is the new owner!!
By this time the management wanted to get rid of some, staff who were not willing to toe the line. First one was to stop the posting on this forum about going digital etc;
In the mean time the company was sinking. All Programmers were not paid. They started to disconnect channels…. one by one. By end December 2007 most of the channels had gone off the air. At this time also Scobie & cronies were trying to sell this company again!!
By then some of the staff got together & started writing appeals to SDA, Labour Dept to intervene but nothing happened. One day this Rohan W. has come into office in a Jeep which belongs to President’s security threatened the staff with death. The staff instead of making an entry, they wrote to the President about this. Immediately the President has taken action. He has never sighted the place after that. But very much in the scene

By Feb/March Hilton Residence (JAIC) cut off the transmission for non payment of their bills. There was hardly any money in the company to pay this amount to Hilton (app Rs.3 mil). Then the staff has found that moneys have been siphoned out by Scobie and his cronies. According to a very well informed source that the amount is close to a staggering Rs.100 mil!. They have got the proof as well. (In fact they have reported this to the CID & collecting more info) The staff hadn’t got their salaries since May this year. Can you’ll believe it. There is 75 staff still!! They have complained to Labour Dept. & they are supposed to be dragging this issue because the staff believe that Rodrigo & Wijetunge have influenced the famous Mervin as he is the Labour Minister !

By end of May things have got really worse. The electricity was cut off as a result no phone lines! (There its Rs.1 mil.). The mobiles were cut off. That’s why we couldn’t contact them. So now the staff comes in small numbers & taking turns. There are few members of the staff who had helped this daylight robbery to take place. I saw a post above; a few names were given with them the HR (Devika) & Accountant (Harshini) & another person by the name of Prasanna are supposed to be involved. This director Rodrigo with Wijetunge have withdrawn moneys that were kept for staff salaries & gratuity (Rs.9.4mil.) They supposed to have forged other directors’ signatures to withdraw money from two banks. Inquiries are on
Same time the staff collectively made a complaint to Bambalpitiya Police regarding electricity, water & other facilities. They only wanted the directors to address their grievances & give solutions. Some came to the Police Station but the main guy Christopher Rodrigo never sighted. Then the Police have reported to Mt.Lavinia Courts.
First day only one director had been present. He was released on a personal bail. On 10th Sept. other directors were present. Rodrigo was not present on this day too. He was warranted. Guys’ next hearing will be on 8th Oct.
I think I must take this opportunity to tell the staff that being a customer for a very long time a very BIG THANK YOU for the services given. All of you’ll are not responsible for this mess. So don’t worry. We are with you guys.

There’s some good news as well. The Hettiarachchi Group has got TV frequencies from TRC & Media license from Media Ministry. They will be launching very soon. Some workers of Comet will get into it as well.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Whats happening to Comet?

The pioneer pay television provider in the country seems to have vanished into thin air after they ceased transmissions a few months back. The subscribers who purchased these connections have been left with the old antenna and the decoder. According to rumors Comet is expecting the arrival of the new management (they have been doing so for several months now) and they are expected to carry on the analog transmission for some time until they go digital once the new management takes over. This information has not been confirmed and at the moment seems like a fairy tale.

Therefore it seems that Comet will not be relaunching in digital mode. None of the subscribers have been compensated for the loss and not even one of the major media organisations are highlighting the plight of these subscribers who have been victims of a well publicized day light robbery.

We hope Comet subscribers will come together to fight for their investment and we are willing to help using this blog but it is upto the subscribers to get together.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Suba Aluth Awruddak Wewa

We take this opportunity to wish the Management, Staff & Subscribers of Comet Cable services a Peaceful, Happy & Prosperous New Year.

With transmissions halted until the new management takes over we hope that there is a smooth transfer of management control if the management changeover story is true. But many Comet Subscribers are moving to alternate service providers.

We hope that the New Year will be much better for Comet Cable.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Comet may recommence broadcasting

Pioneer Pay television company Comet Cable may recommence transmission after the Colombo District court issued an enjoining order preventing Union Residencies (Pvt) Ltd., removing Comet Cable satellite dishes from their rooftop.

For the last few weeks Comet tranmissions had ceased and customers were not informed officially of the reason. Customers who were able to contact representatives of the company have been told that transmissions will commence once the new management takes over operations of the company however todays newspaper reveals a totally different side of the story.

Comet is a company that is struggling to stay afloat and an event such as this would deplete its already dwindling financial resources.

Daily News Mar 27th 2008 : Multivision allowed to transmit

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The final stages of operation

It looks like the Comet Cable days are being numbered with all Star Channels, etc being off air the last few weeks. Subscribers are unable to contact anyone for information and it is best that subscribers complain to the TRC and hopefully some newspaper will take steps to highlight the Comet Cable scam.

Now it is obvious that the Comet Digital announcement was a total lie. The Website has not been updated and it seems that it is 99% finished. News that Dialog has purchased Comet Cable is false and maybe another tactic by the down trodden company to retain subscribers.

The best course of action is for subscribers to refrain from paying monthly rentals. Many subscribers are moving to Dialog TV, LBN, etc. It looks like very soon this blog will have to be renamed "Late Comet Cable Forum".

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Star Package may go off air

According to reports being received the Star Package channels are in danger of being removed from Comet Cable since messages are being flashed across the screens regarding non payment of dues by Comet Cable to Star Television.

The message reads as follows "THIS CABLE NETWORK HAS LARGE PAYMENTS DUE AND LIABLE FOR DISCONNECTION". If the Star Package is also removed due to non payment there will be a large percentage of free to air channels in comparison to the pay channels. This will leave Comet subscribers paying their rentals just to watch free to air channels. Some have decided not to pay their rentals until the problems are rectified and we believe that many others will follow if this continues.

After the initial disruption to Cinemax and HBO a few weeks ago it was restored and then Cinemax was taken off air and replaced with NHK which was later replaced with Al Jazeera. We are unable to confirm whether Cinemax has returned.

Please keep us updated on the latest on Comet Cable and the situation regarding the Star Channels as the days progress.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cinemax OUT - NHK IN

The above is true according to the last piece of information received and maybe Cinemax has returned but we are unable to confirm it. This is no doubt leaving Comet Cable subscribers frustrated. We are not in anyway implying that the other operators in Sri Lanka are 100% perfect since it is not true, but Comet seems to be on the wrong side many times now and are also not communicating with their subscribers which makes matters worse.

All what we can tell to anyone planning to buy Comet Cable is to avoid doing so since things are very shaky over there. Channels disappear mysteriously and reappear as mysteriously as they disappeared.

It is sad though that the pioneer pay television broadcaster in Sri Lanka may be no more in the near future. Hopefully some big newspaper can pick up on this story and lay the facts bare for all to read.

Please keep us updated on the latest regarding Comet Cable as the days progress.