Delhi MSOs blame politicians & media for CAS confusion

NEW DELHI: As an effigy of information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was burnt by National Akali Dal (NAD) activists on 7 January, demanding a ban on ads on pay channels, later in the day, multi-system operators (MSOs) decried the allegations hurled against them by politicians, especially Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, on CAS (conditional access system).


The MSOs said that confusion has been created by politicians and a section of the media. The MSOs yesterday sought to allay fears on CAS and reiterated that despite canards being spread on the issue, it is "actually a very simple process and all cable TV service provider have sufficient manpower to accommodate the desired number of consumers at any given point of time."

Addressing a press conference yesterday, the representatives of the MSOs tried to clarify all the issues, including the fact that no effort had been speared to educate the consumer properly.

According to Siti Cable head Jawahar Goel, "We have distributed pamphlets, are running the information on CAS on our video channels, have set up call centres. What more is needed of us?"

Interestingly, Goel also said that he had information that the government is contemplating of announcing an interim regulator for the broadcast sector. Inquiries made by revealed that he wasn't much off the mark and that the government actually is in the process of making some announcement in this regard very soon.

Earlier, I&B ministry officials had indicated that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) may be entrusted with the job of regulating the broadcast sector as an interim measure, a move that also has the support of the likes of Confederation of Indian Industry.

Coming back to the press conference called by the MSOs, it was attended by Siti Cable, Hathway Datacom's S N Sharma, Trinity Network's (formerly Spectranet) Arun Mohan and a representative from INCablenet, while independent cable ops hung around the venue.

At the press conference, a release in the form of questions and answers was distributed, which sought to answer all the points of criticisms that had been raised on CAS in South Delhi where the cable fraternity was implementing addressability buoyed by a Delhi high court order late last year.

For example, on the issue of set-top boxes and their standards, the MSOs have said that the service providers have introduced "high quality digital set-top box that comes with many value-added services."

"Since the inception of CAS in Delhi, we have kept the interest of the consumer as our first priority and initiated several consumer friendly schemes for STBs, including provision for the same by way of a meager security deposit and nominal monthly rental," the statement said. It then went to detail the various schemes that had been announced.

Rebutting allegations of non-availability of pay channels on an a la carte basis, the MSOs said the price of individual pay channels and bunch of different channels available as a package bouquet are available to the consumers.

"It would be wrong to say that we are only selling bouquets and not individual channels," Goel said, pointing out that where agreements have not been signed they are unable to provide a fixed price for the pay channels.

Meanwhile, members of National Akali Dal - new entrants to the CAS drama - demonstrated against the government and demanded a ban on advertisement on pay channels and "reasonable" rate for cable TV services.

The NAD is of the opinion that the government should oversee implementation of CAS, which is the answer to the many ills afflicting the Indian media industry.

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