West Bengal government more amiable to CAS

NEW DELHI: Whether the cable industry-initiated move to implement CAS would be a success or not in Delhi is yet to be seen, but the implementation committee set up by the West Bengal government, which met on 15 December to review the situation, has suddenly started singing praises about addressability.

Information from Kolkata indicates that the West Bengal government is more amiable to the idea of CAS.

According to an internal briefing at the information and broadcasting ministry here in Delhi, the state's implementation committee on CAS would meet to see if the Delhi scene could be replicated in Kolkata too.

An I&B ministry source said, "If everything goes well in Delhi, initial hiccups notwithstanding, then CAS may be rolled out in Kolkata too around mid January." This would mean that Kolkata would watch the Delhi scenario for about a month.

However, the source pointed out that a lot would depend on the outcome in Delhi where, buoyed by a Delhi high court order, the multi-system operators and independent cable operators have routed all pay channels through a set-top box from 15 December midnight.

But new developments in Delhi seem to suggest that the rollout that was being initiated may not have such a smooth ride afterall. This is because a public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed by consumer bodies against implementation of CAS without proper safeguards for consumers.

Meanwhile, before the assembly election the West Bengal government had said that considering the fact that CAS was being deferred in Delhi and the state was not taken into confidence by the federal government while taking a decision to rollout addressability, CAS should be deferred in West Bengal too.

A letter from the state government to the I&B ministry had stated that apart from the above reasons, the state was not in a position to tackle law and order problems arising out of resentment due to additional expenditure on boxes.

In Maharashtra, of course, the Shiv Sena had warned that CAS would not be allowed to be rolled unless it was tried in Delhi. The I&B ministry, after consultation with the Prime Minister's Office, had decided not to force the issue in Mumbai as a confrontation with Shiv Sena would have led to a political controversy.

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