PM holds another 'CAS summit', Delhi CM meets Indian broadcasters

NEW DELHI: Even as the Indian broadcasters met the Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, a staunch opponent of conditional access rollout, Prime Minister AB Vajpayee held a meeting on CAS at his residence with colleagues.

According to government sources, the PM held a meeting with information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and law minister Arun Jaitley today evening around 6 pm, "presumably an update on CAS." The issue of Star News may also have been discussed.

Though details of the meeting was not available till the time of writing this report, government sources indicated that with Parliament in session, the PM wants to make sure the CAS issue doesn't blow up into a controversy.

The Standing Committee on information technology, that released it latest report today, has anyway recommended a deferment of CAS implementation to ensure a blackout of satellite pay channels does not happen.

It is also learnt that Jaitley has been drafted into the issue to broker a truce between still-warring factions of broadcasters and the cable fraternity. His presence in such meetings indicates that the government may be looking at a new piece of legislation to rein in pay broadcasters who, according to a source close to Prasad, "have not played fair and have constantly put roadblocks in the way of a smooth rollout of CAS."

In private, the government, some ministers and even bureaucrats admit that it would be time consuming to try bringing a legislation to make "errant" broadcasters fall in line. "But in the long run that (a legislation) would happen and the broadcasters, especially one particular foreign-owned broadcaster, would realise that the government had been lenient in the past hoping in vain for full co-operation on CAS," the source close to Prasad explained.

In the meanwhile, Delhi CM Dikshit met Indian broadcasters who briefed her on the benefits of CAS. "She has now asked us to come back with a full presentation on the issue," an Indian broadcaster's representative said.

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