Sushma Swaraj says addressability will be compulsory

Information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj has said that cable operators will have to compulsorily build in conditional access systems (CAS) into their networks. In an interview to the The Times of India she has said that: "This issue (conditional access) is being placed before the parliamentary standing committee on November 19. It will be passed by notification since Clause 22E of the Cable Amendment Act allows the ministry to keep pace with technological changes without taking recourse to an amendment."

She told the newspaper that cable TV operators will no find it difficult to build in conditional access in their networks. "The costs are not going to be so high - not at all. The operator can have the CAS financed by a financial institution," she says. "A subscriber will not be expected to pay more than Rs 10-15 per month for its use. The average cost of a pay channel today is about Rs 5 per month so how will this prove expensive? I must emphasise that today cable operators are showing more than 70 channels every month and several subscribers do not wish to see so many channels. Having a CAS will help ensure proper content regulation. Those who do not wish to see Fashion TV or MTV or any other pay channel for that matter can simply get the operator not to screen it into their homes."

Cable TV operators are not likely to take kindly to the initiatives the government is taking to organise the wild cable TV sector. Earlier this week, an Andhra Pradesh High Court (Addressability comes to the forefront) said that basic pay TV channels should stop collecting subscription revenues from cable TV operators until subscribers have the facility to chose which channel they want to watch. This is expected to hit pay TV programmers such as Star TV, Sony Entertainment, Zee TV, Discovery, Hallmark, DD Sports, pretty hard and they are expected to go in appeal against the interim ex parte high court judgement.

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