CAS Bill first item on RS agenda today; discussion post-lunch

NEW DELHI: The Cable TV (Networks) Regulation Amendment Bill 2002, the passage of which will bring in conditional access system (CAS) in the country, has been listed as the first item on the agenda of the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of the Indian Parliament today.

The discussion on the CAS Bill is scheduled to take place after the luncheon session.

Information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj had expressed confidence in a conversation with last Friday that the process of implementation of the CAS should get the nod of the Rajya Sabha this week.

Sounding absolutely confident of the passage of the Bill, Swaraj had stated she did not foresee any opposition to the Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Swaraj's assertive stance on CAS followed soon after the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), after initial reservations on CAS, made it public that it supports the government initiatives on CAS.

The Bill, which seeks to facilitate implementation of CAS and bring about addressability in Indian cable homes, has already been okayed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) during the Monsoon Session itself. The Bill is now awaiting the Rajya Sabha's nod before it is enacted into law.

The Rajya Sabha, where the government does not have a majority, has been a problem area for the government as far as CAS is concerned. The Opposition Members of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha --- mainly the Communist party of India (Marxist) and the Congress Party --- had been demanding that the issue of CAS be discussed thoroughly and, preferably, be referred to a parliamentary committee for more deliberations on the issue.

A senior RS partyman of the CPM, Nilotpaul Basu, had told recently that his party is for CAS to be referred to a parliamentary panel for more discussion on the issue. However, Basu could not be contacted for comments on Swaraj's latest assertion on CAS.

Finally, after a whole host of twists and turns, CAS looks on its way to becoming reality, though its actual implementation will take some more time.

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