Cable TV

Cable ops to meet I&B minister this evening

NEW DELHI: Though a total cable blackout did not happen in Delhi or in other parts of the country as had been threatened by a section of the cable fraternity, meetings with government officials are, of course, being held around conditional access.

A senior executive of Zee Telefilms? cable arm Siti Cable said there may be a 'partial' blackout of cable service, which however needs to be ascertained. However, a section of the cable operators claimed that they have successfully blacked out service for the day in most parts of Delhi, at least.

In a related development, some independent cable operators, and a couple of MSOs are slated to meet information and broadcasting (I&B) minister Ravi Shankar Prasad this evening to discuss CAS rollout, a week ahead of the revised schedule.

The government is upset that till sometime back the multi-system operators (MSOs) had mislead it on the availability of set-top boxes. According to one estimate, there are only about 40,000 boxes that have been cleared by the customs till late last week. Now, if this estimate is to be believed, then it is worrisome as these boxes may not be adequate to even cope up with the minimal demand that is expected initially.

A government official yesterday said that after having 'settled' the political issues, the government is now concentrating on ironing out differences in the industry on CAS implementation. It seems that the political message from Raipur where the Bharatiya Janata Party held its national executive meeting recently is clear: go ahead with CAS, but with minimum fuss.

Meanwhile, Zee Telefilms vice-chairman Jawahar Goel today claimed that Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit is 'satisfied' by the paper on CAS given to her by the Indian broadcasters. The chief minister, however, could not be contacted for an official comment.

Tomorrow in the lower house of the Parliament, the government is expected to face some heat on the issue of CAS and the controversy that has been whipped up around it.

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