Law ministry to give opinion on CAS Bill

NEW DELHI: The information and broadcasting ministry is understood to have sought the advice and opinion of the law ministry on conditional access system and whether an ordinance is feasible at this point of time.

According to government sources, an opinion from the I&B ministry has been certainly sought, but whether that will lead to an Ordinance (an executive order) cannot be said at this point of time.

What the sources did admit is that the clarifications sought from the law ministry do revolve round at least one fact: what will be the status of CAS if the DTH regime comes into effect and somebody starts a KU-band DTH service in India?

The I&B ministry is also looking into the issue of set-top-boxes (STBs) as and when CAS is implemented as also what would be the fate of STBs in a DTH regime.

It is learnt that some technical experts have opined that if the DTH regime comes through, CAS may become redundant or its value may diminish as the cable subscribers won't be prone to investing in two STBs for a TV service.

Though at this point of time, an ordinance on CAS looks unlikely, ministry sources did hint that I&B minister Sushma Swaraj is still keen on bringing about CAS even before the next session of parliament starts.

But to do this, the government will have to convince the President, who promulgates an ordinance, that CAS is of national importance and a piece of law cannot wait till the next session of parliament.

The government sources also indicated that the law ministry might give its opinion on the matter by the end of this week or early next week.

The amendments to the Cable TV (Networks) regulation Act, 1995, which would facilitate implementation of CAS, has been okayed by the lower house of the Indian parliament (Lok sabha), but a green signal from the Upper House (Rajya sabha) could not be obtained during the recently concluded monsoon session of parliament because of opposition from the Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha. So much so that the I&B ministry had to get the Cable TV Regulation Amendment Bill 2002 delisted from the agenda of RS sometime during the middle of the parliament session because of the demand from the Opposition that it wanted a thorough debate on the issue of CAS before it gives it okay to the amendments.

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