CAS bill in limbo after walkout in RS; govt. hoping to reintroduce it next week

NEW DELHI: To reintroduce or not to reintroduce? That is the question exercising information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj. Well not this week anyway. The Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2002, which was to be reintroduced in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) tomorrow, has again been kept back after the government's failure to arrive at a consensus.

To add to Swaraj's woes, agitated opposition members staged a walkout in the Rajya Sabha today charging the government with tacitly supporting the ongoing agitation by the cable fraternity in the capital, Mumbai and some other cities across the country.

The Bill, which will set in motion the rollout of conditional access systems (CAS) in the country, is now likely to go through another round of consultations between the government and the opposition parties (principally the Congress and the left wing CPM) with a possible reintroduction next week. reported that several opposition members even charged the government with sponsoring the agitation by cable operators besides leaking the private discussions some of the members had with Swaraj yesterday.

Deputy prime minister LK Advani, who was present in the House, denied the government had anything to do with the cable operators' agitation.

Leader of the opposition Manmohan Singh of the Congress said Advani's remarks did not tally with media reports today that said Swaraj had assured cable operators that the government would get the Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha.

"This only strengthens the suspicion that the government was aiding and abetting the cable operators' strike," Singh said. Unconvinced by the Advani's response, the opposition staged a walkout. 

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