CAS task force formed; to meet 7 Feb

NEW DELHI: The government has completed the formation of the task force that will decide the pricing and composition of the basic tier of service in a conditional access regime and has called a meeting of the panel members on 7 February to discuss various issues.

According to government sources, Rakesh Mohan, joint secretary (broadcasting) in the information and broadcasting ministry, would head the task force.

Those from the industry who find a place in the 17-person panel include Suresh Khanna of CETMA, Sanjiv Kainth of Thomson India (a possible manufacturer of set-top boxes), ESPN India country head Manu Sawhney, Siti Cable chief Jawahar Goel, Sony Entertainment TV India's distribution head Shantanu Aditya, Rajiv Vyas of HTMT (INCablenet), Asim Dutta of RPG and D Maran of the Sun TV group.

The panel would also have an expert from Doordarshan and representatives of consumer rights groups.

The terms of reference for the 8 February meeting are as follows:

- Recommend the size and price of the basic tier of the notified free to air channels,

- Recommend on rollout of addressability in other cities and towns (apart from the metros that are targeted in the first phase),

- Any other issue that may be related to CAS and its rollout.

The question doing the rounds of course is what is the stand that the I&B ministry will adopt now on the issue of CAS, considering that Sushma Swaraj is moving out of Shastri Bhawan (housing the ministry). How Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is moving in to replace her from coal and mines as minister of state with independent charge, approaches the issue will be eagerly watched..

If Swaraj had taken it upon herself to see that CAS was pushed through Parliament and implemented as soon as possible, Prasad's views on this are not known yet till the time of posting of this report.

Questions around `whether Prasad will show as much zeal to push through CAS as Swaraj?' are already being raised in industry and in government circles.

Only Prasad can provide some answers. So keep tuned in for Prasad speak.

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