MUMBAI: IBF members received a bit of a jolt on 23 April. Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati CEO and IBF chairman K S Sarma - the one player likely to be least affected by the CAS transition - said that he was not in favour of reducing the number of cities in which CAS has to roll out from four to one.
Sarma also disagreed that the number of channels in the free to air basic tier should be unlimited. He pointblank asserted that the FTA channel number should left to the task force to decide.
His dissenting voice comes even as members of the IBF - who run pay TV subscription channels and whose advertising revenue could plunge following the reduction in the number of viewing homes courtesy CAS - have been demanding that conditional access should be rolled out in a phased manner, first in one city and then gradually to the remaining three, as mandated by the government.
Sarma's stand on the FTA issue has also come as a setback for free to air broadcasters such as Sahara TV and Sabe TV which have expressed the view that there should be no limit on the number of free channels in the basic tier. Their fear is that cable TV operators may arm twist them into paying fees for carriage.