Broadcasters petition PMO on CAS

NEW DELHI: A section of broadcasters have petitioned the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to intervene and have a re-look at the various issues related to implementation of conditional access (CAS) in India.

A senior executive of a multinational broadcasting company told that "it would be correct to say some broadcasters have approached the PMO to intervene in the matter." However, the person refused to divulge any further details.

It seems that after having failed to convince the information and broadcasting ministry (I&B) that the CAS rollout should be phased and not introduced in the four metros at the same time, part of the broadcasting community now has taken its case to a higher authority.

Though the I&B ministry was mum on this issue today when contacted as most of the top bureaucrats and the minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, were out of the country as part of a tour to Cannes and London, there seems to be some truth in the PMO factor.

Sudhindra Kulkarni, an officer on special duty in the PMO now looking after the affairs of the Press Information Bureau (the government's PR arm), is said to have sat through a meeting that Prasad had with the MSOs some time back on CAS.

According to government sources, Kulkarni is also expected to attend a meeting of the government-piloted task force on CAS that is scheduled to be held on 21 May.

The broadcasters expect that the PMO would see some reason in their viewpoint and may step in to resolve the situation that many feel would unleash chaos in the short run.

Though the government at the moment is firm on the CAS rollout deadline of 14 July, several independent reports and experts have said that a simultaneous implementation of CAS in the four metros would lead to chaos in cable homes and the market as the industry has not yet been able to fine tune its act, especially those related to availability to set top boxes, which would be necessary to receive the pay channels.

The cost of the STBs has been a topic of much debate in recent times.

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