Cabinet shelves CAS Ordinance?

MUMBAI: The Union cabinet this morning "informally" discussed the draft Ordinance prepared by information and broadcasting ministry to regulate broadcasters in a post-conditional access environment 

Parliamentary affairs minister and cabinet spokesperson (former I&B minister) Sushma Swaraj held a media briefing after the meeting but would not elaborate on the details of what had transpired. The only clear comment that Swaraj would offer was that the Cabinet was clearly of the view that the rollout of CAS should be smooth and should not cause disruptions and inconvenience to consumers.

The talk within industry circles though, is that the cabinet appears to have rejected the Ordinance. That might explain Swaraj's response to a direct poser on what was the cabinet's decision vis-a-vis the Ordinance. She reportedly said that talk of an Ordinance had been reported by the media, and stressed that no official communique on the matter had come from the government.

Before presenting it to the cabinet, I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had got the law and justice ministry to clear the draft. The Ordinance reportedly empowers the government to fix the price of individual pay channels, either curb or ban advertisements on pay channels and disallow bundling of weak and strong channels offered as bouquets by broadcasters.

If the cabinet has really rejected the draft Ordinance, then the "stick" the I&B ministry would have had at its disposal to get broadcasters to fall in line is no longer a factor in the never-ending CAS rollout conundrum.

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