Regulators

Govt looking at basic tier price of Rs 90 post-CAS

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The Indian government would ideally like to keep the price of the basic tier of free-to-air (FTA) channels, once the conditional access system (CAS) is implemented, below Rs. 100. This is in contrast to the figures that have been touted in the industry that ranges between Rs 125 and Rs 150.

"Ideally we are looking at pricing the basic tier of FTA channels at around Rs 90," a senior information and broadcasting ministry official told indiantelevision.com.

However, the government official also added that if, after a meeting with cable operators, slated to take place soon, the operators say they would be comfortable with Rs 100 we'd "come to a compromise as the government is quite flexible about the whole idea. "

The official also added that "the government is not looking at controlling channels - specially the FTA channels.

Explaining the rationale behind the clause in the Cable TV (Networks) Regulation Amendment Bill, 2002 passed by Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament), which empowers the government to decide on the FTA package, the official explained that if a certain area in a city is dominated by for example South Indians, then having Punjabi or Bengali channels as part of the FTA basic tier in the area would not be feasible.

Still, media analysts insist that certain clauses in the Bill, yet to be okayed by the Rajya Sabha (Upper House), are aimed at giving government a control over what Indian cable and satellite subscribers can watch or not.

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