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Mumbai-based consumer body flays CAS

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The Consumer Guidance Society of India has recommended that the government should first ensure that CAS addresses the critical issue of dismantling the on ground cable monopolies and that choice of selecting the channels rests with consumers, before implementing the system.

According to CGSI chairman Anand Patwardhan, the Cable Networks Regulation Amendment Bill 2002, to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow, offers no protection to consumers against monopolistic cable ops, nor does it seek to redress the grievances of consumers. Patwardhan points out that while the choice of free to air channels to be part of the basic service will now rest with the government while the choice of which pay channels to be offered to consumers will rest with cable ops. While the burden of buying the set top boxes will have to be borne by the viewers, the consumers will also have to pay a higher monthly fee monthly fee for receiving the pay channels, he feels.

"The consumer will have no recourse if a particular pay channel that a consumer wants to see and is ready to pay for is not made available by the cable op. Neither will the consumer have a choice to see the FTA channel of his choice," says Patwardhan. He also terms as discriminatory the bill's proposal to "legalise" consumers being charged differently in different areas of the same city, he observes.

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