Cable TV

CATV Act expected to clear RS tomorrow

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Now that the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2002 has been passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament), there is one final step it has to take before being signed into law - clear the Rajya Sabha (Upper House).

The amendments to the Cable TV Regulations Act, 1995, which will pave the way for addressability on Indian cable systems through conditional access, is likely to be cleared in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow. Current indications are that though the bill has not been listed in tomorrow's agenda, the government will force its discussion in the Upper House along with another bill. The effort is clearly to get the bill passed tomorrow itself or information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj's dogged efforts to push the bill through would get negated.

The amendments to the Act were passed in the Lok Sabha yesterday through a voice vote after a marathon discussion which lasted over three hours.

The bill was to have been discussed in the Rajya Sabha today but could not be taken up as the House was busy discussing other issues like a co-operative bank scam which has recently surfaced and most of the early afternoon was taken up by finance minister Yashwant Sinha replying to various queries on this issue.

However, government officials point out that even in the unlikely event that the bill is not discussed in the RS tomorrow, proponents of CAS need not lose heart.

"Since the Bill has been okayed by the Lok Sabha, the government can push through the legislative change through an ordinance after Parliament takes a break," a senior information and broadcasting official told indiantelevison.com.

Government officials also opine that effecting policy changes through ordinance has been resorted to in the past by various governments.

Incidentally, before the Cable TV Networks Regulation Act, 1995 was formally enacted into a law, the then government of the day had passed a late night ordinance to regulate cable networks.

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