Television

Government still unclear about future of CAS

NEW DELHI: The government is not sure about the future of conditional access system (CAS) in either Delhi or in Mumbai and Kolkata. It is also uncertain whether to push ahead with the rollout of addressability in the aftermath of the outcome of the assembly elections.

"We are still to decide whether to go the whole hog (on CAS) or not," as senior government official told few journalists this evening.

Dropping broad hints that one may write off CAS for good, the official added, "The decision on Delhi, as also the rest of the country, would have to be taken at the highest level (of the government). The information and broadcasting ministry alone cannot take a final decision on the issue."

It may be recalled that Delhi was taken off the CAS rollout map of four metros earlier this year by the government on the pleas that introduction of addressability before the assembly elections, which took place yesterday, would complicate matters during the polls. Subsequently, Delhi was de-notified from the CAS roadmap.

This was done by the government as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Delhi unit head and chief ministerial aspirant, Madan Lal Khurana, had convinced the top leadership of the party that introduction of CAS before the polls would dampen the poll prospectus of the party. Now, with exit polls, being aired on TV channels, showing that the Union territory of Delhi would be retained by the Congress Party and Khurana and Co. have little chance of coming to power, the cable industry had thought the central government would push ahead with CAS in Delhi.

In this regard, some cable operators and representatives of multi-system operators (MSOs) are slated to meet up with I&B ministry officials tomorrow.

However, the official pointed out that the government would have to notify again Delhi and be "pro-active" to push ahead with CAS. But with the opposition to CAS continuing in Mumbai too (Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and the Sena-backed cable operators are still against CAS), it is "unlikely 

that the (CAS) fire would be lighted again after it has been extinguished effectively," the official explained.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Delhi high court is yet to pronounce its verdict on a case filed by Zee Telefilms cable arm Siti Cable and a clutch of other parties against the government. The plea had been that after having goaded the cable industry into investing in infrastructure for a post-CAS regime, especially in set-top boxes, the government 

backtracking in Delhi, and elsewhere, has resulted in financial loss to cable companies.

Meanwhile, the government admitted today that as per data furnished by the Customs department, two lakh STBs have come into the country.

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