Nothing official about it that CAS deferred again

MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: In the capital it has been buried but in the country's commercial capital of Mumbai, as in the other two metros of Kolkata and Chennai, conditional access system (CAS) is still on - but only technically.

Late this evening the government announced that Delhi has been denotified from the CAS rollout map. Therefore, as per law, CAS is supposed to take effect in the designated Zone 1 areas of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai from 1 September.

Senior government officials also stated that talks are on with Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, including an interaction between him and I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and it seems that the opposition to CAS in Mumbai is "weakening."

The government may think it is weakening but that is not the message that is coming across in Mumbai. The Sena remains stauunchly opposed to CAS, petitions are pending in the Bombay and Chennai High Courts, and there is confusion among ground-level cable operators. The reality appears to be that CAS will effectively stand deferred on 1 September, the government's claims notwithstanding.

A senior I&B ministry official however, insisted, "CAS is on in Mumbai too, but for the first 10-15 days the government would take a lenient view and won't crack the whip on those consumers who access pay channels without set-top boxes or those cable ops who black out pay channels in Delhi."

That is exactly the position being taken by Mumbai's dominant MSO, the Hinduja Group's INCableNet, which has indicated it may resort to blacking out of pay channels. INCableNet COO Rajiv Vyas was quite categorical when speaking to that CAS would go into effect from 1 September in south Mumbai (Zone 1) as per schedule opn his cable network.

"Unless we get a notification from the Central government saying otherwise, at the stroke of midnight on Sunday, we are compelled by law to switch off all pay channels," said Vyas. It was to put this point across that a big colour ad was put out in the Times of India today, exhorting customers to buy set top boxes, Vyas added.

Vyas's comments have added significance because INCableNet controls most of the south Mumbai area that falls in Zone 1. The other dominant MSO in Zone 1, Hathway Cable and Datacom (in which Star India officially has a 26 per cent stake), was much more circumspect as to how it would go about its business post-1 September. A senior company official would not be drawn into a comment on what it planned to do. He however, reiterated that Hathway was ready to implement CAS but was awaiting further clarity from the government on the issue.


Shiv Sena Vibhag Pramukh and spokesperson on CAS Anil Parab paints a dim picture of the CAS rollout possibilities: "Yesterday I addressed a gathering of nearly 200 cable operators who have operations in south Mumbai. All of them were clueless about the implementation of CAS from 1 September. They weren't aware of the commission structure or the prices of the individual channels or the outright purchase price points of the STBs. Nearly 300,000 boxes are needed for Mumbai and the MSOs have sold less than 500 boxes - the remaining being test boxes. I shall raise these issues at the CAS implementation task force meeting scheduled for Monday in New Delhi."

When asked about possible 'blackouts' from Monday 1 September, Parab says: "Blackouts on such a large scale are totally ruled out. I don't think anyone from the industry will have to guts to do so."

Parab also denied that the fate of CAS in Mumbai would depend on the outcome of the proposed meeting between Balasaheb Thackeray and LK Advani. He emphatically stated that he wasn't aware of any such meeting. He said that the issues will be sorted out during the CAS implementation task force meeting.

GROUND-LEVEL OPERATORS PAINT GLOOMY PICTURE also contacted a number of ground level operators and this is the gist of what they had to say:

* The Shiv Sena is using its political power; seeking the support of cable ops to oppose CAS from 1 September. The MSOs are too scared of going against the Sena - because there is a strong feeling that the BJP-Sena will come to power in Maharashtra/Mumbai in the next elections. Several cable ops are confused. They cannot be seen (or not seen) either with the Sena or with the MSOs.

* Everyone is waiting for the outcome of Monday's CAS implementation task force meeting.

* The outright prices of boxes haven't been announced by a majority of MSOs - they have merely announced rental schemes. INCableNet is the only one that has offered incentives for outright purchase by consumers.

* With taxes, the prices of the plain vanilla boxes crosses the Rs 4,000 mark - the Sena will definitely oppose this as customer unfriendly.

* HITS hasn't been opposed by the cable operators; only the broadcasters have opposed it.

* MSOs are on the verge of finalising agreements (commission structures) with most of the pay TV broadcasters - some have already been signed secretly. Only a few pay TV channels (minor ones) are left behind. But, the MSOs won't declare these arrangements unless there is clarity about CAS rollout.

* Mumbai cable operators are thinking about increasing monthly cable rates (similar to threats by Delhi cable ops) but this is being opposed by the Shiv Sena and BJP's Kirit Somaiya as not consumer friendly.

The general feeling is that status quo will be maintained for the present with cable subscription rates at around the Rs 250 levels.


In Kolkata, the Left Front government is opposed to CAS as they feel the Centre has taken a decision on the matter without holding any discussion with the concerned states.

In Kolkata, the Left Front government is opposed to CAS as they feel the Centre has taken a decision on the matter without holding any discussion with the concerned states.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, West Bengal chief minister said in Kolkata yesterday: "The Centre had kept the state governments in the dark and interacted only with the operators. There are still a lot of complications on the ground. Not everyone can afford the instrument (STB). Besides, I have learnt that Delhi is not introducing the system from 1 September." West Bengal chief secretary SN Roy has already communicated the state's view -- that CAS should be pushed back -- to the I&B ministry.

The scenario is no different in Chennai. The president of Tamil Nadu Cable TV Owners Association Kayal Ilavarasu has been quoted as saying: "We are ready to implement the government's directive on CAS but we can't do it as of now because it is yet to come out with a concrete structure."

The Delhi cable fraternity, meanwhile, is in a militant mood. "We would go ahead and do selective implementation of CAS even in Delhi from 1 September by insisting on routing the less popular pay channels through the set-top boxes (whatever little has been seeded in the market)," National Cable & Telecom Association president Vickky Chowdhry told

Zee Telefilms vice-chairman and Siti Cable head Jawahar Goel too was non-comittal on Delhi saying, "We are reviewing the situation." It is learnt that Zee/Siti Cable may move the court next week against CAS rollout deferment in Delhi.

Another cable body, the Cable Networks Association, has already moved the Delhi High Court. The petition alleges, amongst other things, that the government move on deferring CAS in Delhi would result in financial losses to the cable ops.

As things stand a whole lot hinges on the CAS implementation panel's meeting of 1 September that is to take stock of the CAS situation. Whatever is left of it, that is.

Latest Reads
Sunny Leone in Discovery JEET’s show Man Vs Wild

Sunny Leone will be displaying her adventurous side as host of the mega-popular survival series Man Vs. Wild. The iconic series will telecast in Hindi on the soon-to-be-launched GEC Discovery JEET. The new GEC will premiere in the second week of February 2018 and the series will feature the...

Television TV Channels GECs
Times Now appoints Sujeet Mishra as marketing head

Times Network, part of India’s media conglomerate, The Times Group today announced the appointment of Sujeet Mishra as head of marketing, Times Now.

Television TV Channels People
Experience space with BBC's new VR experience

The BBC is giving you a chance fly. Home - A VR Spacewalk is an interactive virtual reality (VR) experience launched today for the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, and is available to download for free via the Steam Store and the Oculus Store.

Television TV Channels Factual & Documentary
Sony BBC Earth presents the Best of 2017

Sony BBC Earth revisits some of its most popular episodes of the best shows in a special programming line-up titled Best of 2017 starting 18 December 2017, every night at 7 pm and 11 pm.

Television TV Channels Factual & Documentary
Increased revenue from traditional media boosts Shemaroo numbers

Integrated media content house Shemaroo Entertainment Limited (Shemaroo) reported 18.3 percent higher year-on-year (y-o-y) consolidated total revenue for the quarter ended 30 September 2017 (Q2 FY 2017-18, the quarter under review) stood at Rs 1,345.7 million as compared with Rs 1,138.6 million in...

Television Production House Film Production
21st CF spins-off into new live news & sports co Fox

MUMBAI: After the blockbuster acquisition of 21st Century Fox by The Walt Disney Company, the former has announced that it will spinoff into a new brand Fox’ that will seek to replicate its own success in the newly focussed verticals of live news and sports brands. Using fiscal 2017 as a base, the...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
With Star India, Disney emerges as India's largest M&E firm

MUMBAI: Unlike the US, where the merger of The Walt Disney Co and 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets is between two near equals, the scenario in India is totally different. 21st Century Fox’s India venture Star India is a $1.7 billion dollar media and entertainment behemoth while Disney India...

Television TV Channels People
Disney to buy 21st Century Fox assets for $52.4 billion

The Walt Disney Co has set up a $52.4 billion, all-stock deal to acquire 20th Century Fox and other entertainment and sports assets from Rupert Murdoch’s empire.

Television TV Channels Movie Channels
MOVIES NOW brings #StopDreamingAndStartWinning with 100 Mania Season 5 for its viewers

Movies Now, India’s english movie channel, rings in the festive season with its property ‘100 Mania’, beginning Friday, 15 December at 9pm. In its 5th season, the channel has curated a line-up of some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters like Furious 7, Jurassic World, Disney’s The Jungle Book,...

Television TV Channels English Entertainment

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories