If govt. wants ordinance on CAS, it will have to convince President

NEW DELHI: With the adjournment of the Indian Parliament sine die today, the fate of conditional access system becomes that much more nebulous. Though, some government officials told this afternoon that the information and broadcasting ministry may take the Ordinance route to bring about the implementation of CAS. 

I&B minister Sushma Swaraj had got the cable TV Networks Amendment Bill 2002 first listed in the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Parliament) towards the beginning of this session, but had got it delisted as Opposition in the Rajya Sabha had wanted a thorough debate on the issue. 

The Lok Sabha (Lower House) has already okayed the amendments to the CATV Act, 1995 through a voice vote which aims at facilitating the implementation of CAS and bring about addressability in Indian cable TV homes.

Government officials said that an Ordinance (an executive order) is a plausibility, but the government has to convince the President that the issue of CAS is of national importance and cannot wait for Parliament to pass it in the winter session. The adjournment of Parliament sine die, ahead of the scheduled date of 14 August, came about as for the past few days no business had been transacted in Parliament with the Opposition in both the Houses resorting to boycott and demanding petroleum minister Ram Naik's resignation after irregularities in the petrol pumps and kerosene depot allotment came to light sometime back. 

Even if the government promulgates an Ordinance on CAS, it has to be okayed by Parliament in the next session or it lapses six months after its promulgation. 

But the Ordinance has to wait a little also if that is the route the government opts to take. The President of India is scheduled to tour the state of Gujarat over the next 10 days and may not have time to study the issue immediately. 

The broadcasting industry, which was not much in favour of CAS implementation immediately, can breathe easier now, while the cable industry and set-top box manufacturers, pushing for CAS, may have to wait a while.

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