Television

CAS back on industry radar screen

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NEW DELHI: Conditional access system (CAS), which had fallen off the radar screen of the media industry and consumers, is set to stage a come back.

The final round of arguments in a case filed by MSO Alliance relating to addressability will get completed on 15 September with the central government promising to clarify its stand on the issue by then.

At a hearing at the Delhi High Court today, the petitioner and another respondent, broadcast regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), submitted their final responses with the government counsel requesting few days to allow his client to come back to the court with a status report on CAS.

The court has also sought some legal clarifications from Trai on whether a law passed by the government or the Executive (notifying CAS for implementation) can remain in suspended animation forever.

MSO Alliance, an apex body of multi-system operators in the country, had moved the Delhi HC some months back seeking judicial succour with the present government dragging its feet on the issue of CAS after the previous government had suspended CAS implementation early 2004 ahead of the general elections that year.

What has strengthened MSO Alliances case is the fact that Trai has submitted before the court that it had given its recommendations on CAS and ways to implement it in phases to the present government on 1 October 2004, but has got no response from the information and broadcasting ministry till

date.

Trai has conveyed to the Delhi court that if the government wants to reject its recommendations on CAS , then it has to convey so, which has also not happened.

It is expected that with the government making its mind on CAS known to the court by 15 September, a clearer picture on the issue of addressability is likely to emerge. The courts observations too would be important in this regard.

CAS, a brainchild of former I&B minister Sushma Swaraj during the previous governments regime, had hit a political wall ahead of polls despite months of industry-ministry interactions on ways to implement addressability in the country. The present government too has shown much inclination to implement CAS beyond a point.

MSO Alliance has alleged in its petition that suspension of CAS has resulted in financial losses to multi-system operators as cable companies had invested in infrastructure on assurance from the previous government that CAS would be implemented.

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