Pressure may build up within BJP on CAS

NEW DELHI: At the moment, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), heading India's coalition government, may not be highly worried, but pressure within the party is likely to build up on conditional access and its rollout once some feedback from the ground, especially Delhi, is received by the party's bigwigs and analysed.

Speaking to, the official spokesperson of the BJP and a Rajya Sabha (Upper House) member M A Naqvi said: "At the moment, there is no pressure within the party or a move to defer the implementation of CAS. The party is behind the government as far as decisions on CAS are concerned."

But Naqvi did admit that some senior party leaders, like the president of the party, have had discussions on CAS amongst themselves.

The Indian government has mandated that from 14 July all pay channels would have to be routed through set top boxes with people paying for the channels they wish to watch. The price of the basic tier of minimum 30 free to air channels has been fixed at Rs 72 per month (exclusive of taxes), which would work out to be slightly over $ 2 per month for consumers in Delhi.

Though Naqvi, a former minister of state for information and broadcasting, did not elaborate further on CAS, BJP sources said that Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai don't matter much. However, with elections scheduled in Delhi later this year, the government may not take a softer stand on CAS rollout.

The party sources went on to add that the government may pay some heed to various independent reports on CAS, including two done by non-Indian companies. It may also go in for phased implementation of CAS, starting off with Chennai or, may be, Chennai and Kolkata.

While Mumbai has the maximum number of cable consumers amongst the metros, Delhi does have over a million cable subscribers.

Elections in Delhi, along with those in few other States, are due this year only. Thus, with pressures and counter pressures at work, CAS is an issue that has the potential of meandering anywhere. After all, for politicians vote banks are more important than (good or bad) policies and this government is known for announcing policy decisions and then rolling them back under pressure from various quarters.

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