Decision on Star News uplink extension likely Thursday

NEW DELHI: The government is determined to keep Star News on tenterhooks as it did not take a decision on its uplinking even today.

A senior government official told reporters today evening that the lengthy replies filed by Media Content and Communications Services India Pvt. Ltd. (MCCS), which has sought government nod for uplinking news content for Star News from India, are still being studied. "A decision (on the weekly extension being given till now) is likely to be taken tomorrow," the official said.

According to Kaushal Dalal, a board member of MCCS who met the information and broadcasting ministry officials today, "The government is yet to take a final view on our case, but we are protected by the Mumbai high court ruling, which will ensure that the uplinking continues even after the deadline expires."

MCCS had moved the courts against Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL), which uplinks content from India for Star News, from terminating the process arbitrarily. The court had observed that VSNL is free to come back to the court if it thinks that the government has directed Star News on something or had not given it the temporary uplink permission. VSNL cannot stop uplinking without informing the court even if the government decides to stop giving Star News the weekly extension it had been giving for the last four weeks.

However, government officials indicated that the replies of Star News are exhaustive and cover most of the areas which had been questioned by the government.

An executive of Star, which holds 26 per cent stake in MCCS, said in private that the case of Star News seems to be a long drawn affair.

Meanwhile, tomorrow in the Lower House of the Indian Parliament the government--- read I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad --- is likely to face a barrage of questions on conditional access system and also on Star News. Some opposition Members of Parliament, reportedly, have been doing their homework on CAS and Star News by getting feedback from a few journalists on the media beat.

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