As deadline nears, still no CAS deals in sight

MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: Just over 15 days to go but the CAS picture seems to be still stuck in pause mode.

The second meeting today of the recently constituted 16-member conditional access system (CAS) implementation committee in the capital remained where it had left off at the last meeting in Mumbai on 5 August. There was nothing new to report.

To quote the I&B ministry additional secretary Vijay Singh from the 5 August meeting: "In today's meeting, we discussed several issues such as pricing of the pay channels and availability of set top boxes (STBs). The MSOs have informed us that they are in a state of readiness with the headends and the STBs in place. The broadcasters and MSOs have assured us that they will be ready with the pricing and commission structure before the next meeting on 14 August." Replace the "next meeting on 14 August" with the CAS rollout deadline of 1 September and it about sums up what Singh would have had to say after today's meeting.

How about Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea? Quoting Mukerjea from the last meeting: "Some progress has certainly been made. Once we resolve issues with penetration, number of households and (revenue share) margins, we should be there." Mukerjea admitted today that deals on revenue share were still to be signed.

There had been some speculation (wishful thinking according to that the pay channels (Star in particular) would come out with some new "consumer friendly" prices. Nothing of the sort has happened.

Zee Group cable arm Siti Cable meanwhile, is still promising to give all channels in Rs 128 plus Rs 72 (with taxes extra). But Siti officials would also admit that there are no agreements in place as of now with either CAS

And still I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asserts that the 1 September CAS rollout is on schedule. The way it looks now, if the deadline is implemented, there could well be a blackout of pay channels in the designated Phase 1 rollout areas in the four metros Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Or maybe at the last minute there might be much burning of the midnight oil among the CAS players to try and cobble together some deal.

Or could another CAS deadline postponement be on the cards?

Also Read:

CAS deadline will be met, say major players; LMOs refuse to play ball

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