Consumer group demands government action on CAS

Delhi-based citizen's forum Consumer Action Network (CAN), has censured the Central government for failing to implement the recommendations of the task force on the introduction of conditional access systems.

CAN held a seminar on 'Cable TV: New Age Dictatorship' in New Delhi on 16 April, where speakers denounced ever increasing cable rates and subsequent government inaction. CAN claims the seminar helped raise several related issues faced by cable consumers.

CAN president Ahmed Abdi, advocate Shyam Moorjani and Hinduja TMT executive VP Ashok Mansukhani at the seminar

The purpose of the seminar was to highlight and voice issues currently faced by cable TV viewers in the country. It aimed at being a platform for face-to-face dialogue with cable ops and broadcasters. Speakers included former MRTP acting chairman Sardar Ali, journalist Saeed Naqvi, Hinduja TMT executive vice-president Ashok Mansukhani, Delhi high court advocate Shyam Moorjani, and CAN president Ahmed Abdi. 

Some of the issues discussed at the seminar included freedom of choice, arbitrary rate hikes, absence of any regulatory authority in India unlike other countries and lack of initiative on the government's part. 

Abdi lamented the present state of the consumer who has neither choice in selection of channels nor in deciding the rates. Cable rates have increased by more than 400 per cent in five years, he pointed out. He alleged that it suited broadcasters to delay the introduction of conditional access as they would no longer be able to bundle their weak channels and sell them forcibly along with the popular channels. 

Naqvi commented that there was a need to create awareness on such issues through forums, debates and seminars. Moorjani stressed on the need for a regulatory authority to be formed that can regulate the broadcasting and cable industry and protect consumers. Cable TV, which has more than 200 million users in India and which is projected to grow into a Rs 5000 billion advertising industry, does not have any regulatory authority, he said. 

Speaking on behalf of the cable industry, Mansukhani said that transparency should come in and that the cable industry was sick of allegations of "underdeclaration". He stressed the need for a regulatory authority and conditional access. He also stressed on the need to freeze the rates.

The recordings of the findings and suggestions of the seminar will be forwarded to the information and broadcasting ministry.

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