CAS: government may tighten the screws

NEW DELHI: India's information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, which is expected to make some further amendments notifying rules regarding unbundling of pay channels in a post-CAS regime, is also toying with the idea of framing rules that will prevent broadcasters from pricing one or few popular pay channels in a bouquet at a very high cost.

The reason being given is that such a move would defeat much benefit accruing to cable consumers.

Pointing out that continued bundling of pay channels would defeat the whole purpose of conditional access or addressability, a senior government official told today: "The government cannot allow that the sum total of the price of all pay channels in a bouquet is much high than the existing price."

However, the official added that the percentage of the increase in the price, if any, has not yet been quantified, though some work on it is on.

What does this mean? This means that if a certain bouquet at present charges Rs 50 per month for five channels, then in the post-CAS regime it cannot have the driver channel in the bouquet priced at Rs 40, while the individual prices of the remaining channels total up to Rs 55 per month.

What the ministry has not been able to decide is up to what percentage of difference in the price be allowed if an instance like that mentioned above is taken into account.

However, the official added: "The I&B ministry is seized of the matter and would take steps that would prevent bundling of channels as also pricing a popular channel at a high cost." 

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