Pro-CAS groups threaten to 'expose' opponents of legislation at media briefing today

NEW DELHI: The issue of conditional access system (CAS) is getting not only getting curioser, but also hotter.

Joining issue with a consumer activist group of Delhi is the Delhi-based National Cable and Telecom Association (NCTA) which has called for a press conference later in the day to highlight the inadequacy of the government in enacting a legislation that would facilitate the implementation of the CAS in phases in the country. 

On one hand the Delhi cable operators have threatened a blackout of satellite channels for an hour in the evening, beginning 20 July, while on the other hand NCTA, whose founder members include vocal supporters of CAS, have said that during the press conference it will expose the lobby which is opposing CAS being brought about. 

In the meantime, learns from reliable government sources that till yesterday broadcasters lobbied with the official of the I&B ministry highlighting the shortcomings in the Bill which will have a legislation in place on CAS, something of the sort which has not been tried out elsewhere in the present format. 

It is also learnt that government officials told a foreign broadcaster representative yesterday that in the basic tier the government is basically looking at including Doordarshan channels. 

Coming back to the NCTA press conference, it is learnt that all those who support CAS will be out in strength at the media briefing to present the cable service providers view and position. 

The issue is the proposed amendment to the Cable TV Networks Regulations Act 1995, which is pending an okay from the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) of the Indian Parliament. It has already cleared the Lok Sabha (Lower House). NCTA feels that the amendment in the Cable TV Networks Regulation Act to implement the CAS has been delayed "under the influence of major broadcasters." 

According to Vikki Choudhry, general secretary of the NCTA, the opposition parties are "behaving strangely." They first supported CAS but now are turning it down, an NCTA statement on the eve of the press conference said. 

Pointing out that CAS "will affect the advertisement revenue for each and every pay TV channel," NCTA has said the issue of under declaration too, will be addressed by CAS.

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