| The government (read the information and
broadcasting ministry) on its part allayed fears expressed in some
quarters that the CAS rollout deadline may be deferred due to political
pressure building up in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)---- as reported
in a section of the media --- that leads the present coalition Indian
Contacted by indiantelevision.com, Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea,
one of the four broadcasters who attended today's meeting here,
admitted that he had told the task force Star would need some more
time to finalise its strategy for a post CAS regime. However, he
still expressed his reservation on the assurances on STBs given
by cable ops at the meeting.
The representatives of companies like Star, ESPN-Star Sports and
Zee Telefilms, according to sources in the task force, also said
that their respective pay channels would remain so, while Sahara
TV president Mahesh Prasad said that Sahara Manoranjan would continue
to be a free to air channel even after CAS is implemented.
Yesterday, the broadcasters had a meeting where it was decided
that the pay channels would remain 'pay'. A group of broadcaster
representatives would meet the additional secretary in the I&B
ministry Vijay Singh tomorrow.
But the issue of set-top boxes (STBs) kept coming back at today's
task force meeting that had been called to do a reality check on
the CAS preparedness of various stake holders of the industry.
One of the independent cable ops on the task force, Rakesh Dutta
is reported to have asked Star India about the number of households
it gets paid for in the metros. When being told the subscription
money comes for over a million houses, Dutta is understood to have
quipped, if that is taken as the benchmark, then the cable industry
would make available one million STBs in the metros.
Those who attended today's meeting, chaired by a joint secretary
in the I&B ministry in the absence of Rakesh Mohan, included
representatives from ESS, Sahara TV, Hathway, INCableNet, Siti Cable,
Zee and independent cable ops from Kolkata and Delhi, amongst others.
However, one of the participants, according to the sources, left
broadcasters with something to chew on when he said that most of
the time task force meetings are all about STBs and their availability,
while the issue of individual prices of pay channels is never discussed
This particular member of the task force also asked whether there
is any validity on the deadline for broadcasters to announce the
price of individual pay channels. Most broadcasters, according to
the sources, kept mum on the issue refraining from spelling out
details on the issue.
Questioned on this matter, one of the directors on Zee Telefilms
board and a younger brother of Subhash Chandra, Jawahar Goel, told
indiantelevision.com after attending the meeting: "Zee has
already announced its prices of the bouquet and would now wait for
others to come up with the individual prices of pay channels in
their respective bouquets before Zee does the same."
NCTA gives memo on CAS
to the Indian president, the prime minister and deputy prime minister