Television

Basic tier task force compositon to be fixed today

NEW DELHI: The Indian government is expected to finalise today the composition of the task force that will decide the price for the basic tier of free to air television channels once addressability starts being implemented in Indian cable homes. 

The deadline for the rollout of conditional access regime in the four metros has been set for 14 July this year.

According to sources in the government, information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj, largely instrumental in pushing through CAS in the Indian parliament, is expected to sign on the file today wherein a list of names to be part of the task force have been enlisted. The task force is expected to be headed by Rakesh Mohan, joint secretary (broadcasting) in the I&B ministry. 

"The file has been lying in the minister's office for a couple of days or so as the minister wants to make sure that the composition is right and every sector that would be involved in CAS is properly represented," a senior government official explained. 

Apart from representation from the government, broadcasters and content providers, there would also be representation of the content carriers (MSOs and cable ops), technical people as also the general public. Consumer activist Akhila Sivadas and consumer rights expert Pushpa Girimaji are also expected to be on the task force to represent the consumers. 

The task force will not only decide the maximum price of the basic tier of cable service, but also the minimum number of channels that will have to be included in the basic tier. However, the government or the task force would not specify which individual channels should be carried as part of the basic tier or which all should not be. 

In a recent meting with the MSOs and the cable fraternity,the minister had made clear that from the date of notification (15 January ) of the changes made in the Cable TV (Network) Regulation Act, CAS should be implemented in the four metros in the first phase.

Swaraj had also said that the government is exploring the possibility of including a few more cities in the first phase of rollout depending on the availability of set-top boxes (STBs) that is necessary to access the pay channels which have been mandated to be necessarily route through STBs.

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