Delhi HC rejects government's plea on CAS

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court today orally rejected the government's plea for granting it three months time to sort out issues related to conditional access system (CAS), but granted it a week to make a written submission on the matter.



At a hearing in the Delhi High Court in a case filed by the MSO Alliance against the Central government, the judge refused to tow the government counsel's line that matters relating to the public still needed to be sorted out for which further time should be granted.

To a line of argument that the government was still trying to regulate the individual price of pay channels, the petitioner contended that it was for the sector regulator, also a respondent in the case, to decide on such issues.

After the government makes a written submission on the issue of CAS and its implementation in a week's time, the petitioner has the right to file a rejoinder if it feels the need.



This would also mark the end of arguments after which a court verdict is expected.

The petitioner has contended that the Central government's ambivalence on CAS has resulted in financial loss to MSOs in particular and the cable fraternity in general.

The government had amended the Cable TV (Network) Regulation Act 1995 in 2002 making it compulsory for cable operators to supply pay channels only through an addressable system, using a set top box.

However, after a series of missed starts, CAS is today functional only in Chennai and is non operational by virtue of a government notification dated 27 February, 2004 in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, where addressability was supposed to have been implemented in phases.

This notification was ostensibly passed to enable Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to complete its study of the Indian broadcasting and cable scenario and give recommendations to the government, which was submitted on 1 October, 2004.

A year on, the government has done nothing to either reject or accept the Trai recommendations, which agree that to give choice to viewers the only answer lies in providing addressability to customers.

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