IBF seeks to formulate guidelines for cable ops on CAS

NEW DELHI: Conditional access system (CAS) keeps on throwing up different issues and aspects that serve to make matters more complicated and confusing.

Now the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) wants to formulate guidelines for cable operators regarding CAS. The intention is noble, but it seems that some members have questioned the grounds on which such a policy can be framed by the IBF.

During a meeting here today, this aspect, including other technical issues related to CAS, was discussed by IBF members, though no consensus, according to information available, was reached.

It is also learnt that a note regarding CAS was circulated. Though does not have a copy of the note, according to some members, the note stated that the key objective of broadcasters under CAS regime will be to usher in transparency so as to lead to more equitable distribution of revenues.

A key concern of IBF members is the loss of revenue on account of piracy and misreporting of subscriber base to broadcasters.

On the issue of piracy control, it was suggested at today's meeting that if at any given point the extent of piracy goes beyond five per cent of the total subscribers, the operator concerned will have to replace pronto all VC cards with newer ones or take steps that will arrest the growth of signal piracy.

But, who will decide the quantum of piracy and on what basis? This is a million dollar question that IBF members are still grappling with as participating members are suggesting various numbers in this regard.

According to some IBF members, at today's meet, spread over two sessions, it was mooted that an agreement be drafted that would be signed between the 

service provider (MSOs and cable ops) and broadcasters. However, no time frame has been set for the drafting of this agreement.

This, as pointed out to, has been suggested to safeguard leakage of various data that would get collected through the subscriber management system in a post-CAS regime.

For example, it has been pointed out that data of subscribers and any trends collected cannot be used by the service provider or sold to any individual or an organisation except when the local laws require to do so and that too after permission has been obtained from the broadcasters.

Apart from this, other highly technical aspects of CAS were also discussed, including the vendor that would supply the CA software and the various types of servers that can and ought to be used.

Are the broadcasters managing pay channels coming out with a joint statement on their resolution on not turning free to air in a post CAS regime, which had been planned earlier and is still being discussed amongst the broadcasters?

It seems there is some confusion on this aspect too.

Though a senior executive of Star India today confirmed to that a non-encrypted dual feed of Star News has been started, apart from the one in an encrypted form. "This has been done to increase viewership of Star News in non-urban areas where the purchasing power of consumers may not be as high as those in urban areas.

So, technically, Star News has not turned FTA, but a separate feed has been started for which cable ops don't have to pay anything for downlinking and redistribution of signals. Similar dual feeds have been also started by the likes of FTV, though Zee denied that it has done any such thing with the Alpha series of regional language channels.

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