Anti-CAS camp in BJP meets Advani; I&B seeks law ministry advice

NEW DELHI: The chorus against conditional access system (CAS) has reached the office of deputy prime minister LK Advani. On the pro-CAS side, the information and broadcasting ministry has reportedly sought the advice of the law ministry on whether "errant" pay channels can be reined in through some legislative measures in case they fail to declare their individual pricing for a post-CAS regime.



According to a senior government official, nothing concrete on CAS can be said at the moment and the government is still hoping that broadcasters would fall in line and declare the prices of the pay channels before 14 July.

Though the government is said to be studying various options, it is becoming increasingly clear that rationing or regulating the quantum of ads carried by pay channels through a legislation may prove a tricky option.

The government official also said that at this juncture government intervention is not foreseen if the broadcasters want to have variable pricing through dual illumination or some other such mechanism.

"In a way variable pricing already exists as certain sections of Delhi, especially the far flung places, pay a lower monthly cable bill than in upmarket areas like South Delhi," the official said.

But the broadcasting lobby is also not giving up. Today additional secretary in the information and broadcasting ministry Vijay Singh had Discovery India country head Deepak Shourie and ESPN India's outgoing country head Manu Sawhney paying him a visit.

However, Shourie said they came to "discuss other things" than CAS with the bureaucrat.

Meanwhile, former chief minister of Delhi and a senior Bharatiya Janata Party member Madan Lal Khurana, along with Pramod Mahajan and others, is understood to have called on Advani to request him to see that implementation of CAS is deferred, at least in Delhi.

Though details of the meeting were not known till the time of writing this report, it is expected that Khurana and company petitioned for the delaying of CAS, particularly with state elections scheduled to be held in five states, including Delhi, by October-November.

Khurana's stand is that CAS smells as foul as rotten onions. According to political folklore, in the last elections held in Delhi, the BJP lost power to the Congress because there was a severe shortage of onions and the public sentiment is said to have gone against the then ruling party.

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