Govt plans rethink on CAS implementation

NEW DELHI:Fazed by criticism and non-cooperation from the industry, Indias federal government is preparing the ground for calling for a review (read, near-junking) of conditional access system rollout.

Apart from discussing CAS on these lines with ministry officials on Sunday, information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also would be speaking on the confusion that has been created by the industry in a calling attention motion in Rajya Sabha (Uppper House) in a few hours from now.

The feeling in the ministry is that the industry not only had misled the government on the ground realities and their preparedness, but also the courts. The Delhi High Court in a recent verdict, on a petition moved by the cable operators and two set-top box manufactuters, had quashed the denotification of Delhi from the CAS rollout map, indicating that addressability should be rolled out in those parts of the Capital as had been mandated earlier.

Though ministry officials would continue to go on rounds of headends in South Delhi area, Prasad is getting firmer in the belief that more than the availability of boxes (or the lack of them), the lack of any planned initiaive on the part of the cable industry to educate the consumers about the whole issue, including the pricing of various bouquets and individual channels, is what has caused more confusion.

In this regard, a review meeting with the cable industry has been called by the ministry later this week. The multi-system operators and cable operators, on their part, say they have not been able to communicate the pricing strucuture properly as various agreements, though agreed upon, are yet to be signed with broadcasters. So there is a weird situation wherein a CAS consumer in South Delhi can actually get all the different bouquets for a lesser amount than if he went in for some channels of his choice.

The I&B ministry also feels, according to government sources, that if the situation in Delhi continues as it is, without showing signs of improvement, the government may go in for an appeal against the Delhi HC order, highlighting the fact that the industry is not ready to rollout CAS and has been doing only lip service to the whole issue.

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