Trai CAS recommendations by July

MUMBAI: Did someone say CAS is dead? The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said today it would submit recommendations on addressability, including price issues, to the government by July.

At an "open forum" called in the capital today ahead of finalisation of its CAS recommendations, Trai chairman Pradip Baijal was quoted by news agency PTI as saying, "We will submit our recommendations on CAS in two months. Along with the recommendations, we have to suggest some amendments in law also because CAS was delegated to Trai through a notification and now we find there are some missing areas in legislation."

"For instance, a licencee is defined in the Trai Act but that definition does not fit a broadcaster. All these missing links have to be addressed, and so we are working on that, and within two months we will send the entire package to the government," PTI further quoted Baijal as saying.

The big question is of course what has got the regulator moving on an issue which has been bouncing around for a while now between the various industry stakeholders? One "huge impetus" was of course provided by the ruling of the Madras High Court on 30 June making "absolute" a stay on the operation of the government's notification indefinitely suspending CAS in Chennai. There is also the fact that with the election process over and done with and only the results awaited, the political pulls and pushes may now recede into the background and the regulator can get on with its job.

Then there is what came through today's open forum. That there is now virtual unanimity among cable operators and private TV channels on implementing CAS.

Representatives of cable operators, Zee Network and other stakeholders all spoke in favour of bringing in CAS. An issue that would of course be worrying the industry is what form the "rules of engagement" will take once Baijal has finalised them. The model he may well follow, say industry sources, is that of the UK's super regulator, the Federal Office of Communications (Ofcom). If that proves to be the case then it would certainly be appreciated by all those in the industry looking beyond the short term.

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