Television

Stumbling blocks abound in CAS imbroglio

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NEW DELHI: If the consumer bodies and average consumers of Delhi, especially the south zone of the capital, were thinking that the court would come to their rescue to save them from, what is being dubbed as, forced implementation of conditional access system (CAS), then some more waiting has to be done.

 

 

The Delhi high court, which had been moved by two consumer bodies on Tuesday against alleged anti-consumer CAS being rolled out in South Delhi, today again failed to take up the case. What makes matters slightly dicey for the petitioners is that the court's winter vacation starts tomorrow.



Lamenting the fact that this is a "temporary setback for the consumer movement," Bijon Misra of the Consumer Co-ordination Council, a petitioner, told indiantelevision.com over the phone from Pondicherry, "Now we'll have to move the court afresh and request the case to be heard by the vacation bench."



Even as various segments of the industry and the government grapple with the issue of rollout, confusion prevails with the cable ops saying the boxes are moving at amazing speed, while many consumers saying even despite queries, the boxes have not been installed.



Misra also pointed out that the process of filing the case again before the registrar of the Delhi high court has been set in motion and, in all likelihood, it would be done by tomorrow evening or tomorrow. "Since the case has to now go to the vacation bench, we'll see also see if we can strengthen our case by reviewing the situation in South Delhi that continues to be anti-consumer and confusing."



According to Misra, the residents' welfare associations of South Delhi have been advised to tell their respective member-households that they should have patience and not "succumb to the coercive methods being employed by the cable operators."



He added: "A few days of less of television (in some parts of S. Delhi) would be beneficial for the consumers in the long run as we feel the cable industry is resorting to arm-twisting tactics and there are various debatable issues relating to CAS."



When queried on the lack of proper homework being done by the cable industry and also misleading the government and the public regarding availability of set-top boxes, Hathway Datacom's president (operations) for North India, SN Sharma, said, "The boxes are very much there and we are also taking out ads in the papers for the consumers. Now, it is up to the consumers to come to us with their needs. We are not forcing people to buy boxes."



Meanwhile, as the information and broadcasting ministry officials went on a surprise inspection of some headends in South Delhi area, the multi-system operators (MSOs) are contemplating holding a press conference tomorrow to project their viewpoint.



Though the officials were mum on their visits to headends - another round is slated to take place tomorrow - ministry sources indicated that an opinion has not been been "firmed up yet" as the officials have come back with mixed feelings on the preparedness of the MSOs despite claims.



The government officials visited some three headends, including one of Hathway in Safdarjung area. If Hathway officials are to be believed, then the government went back "satisfied."



Sources in the cable industry said that the government is more interested in strategising how to tackle the issue in the state assembly, rather than address the ground problems. It is learnt that at least four Members of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi have approached cable operators to understand the issue of CAS and the various nuances of it. Reason: a likely debate in the assembly house.

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