Television

CAS case: govt. to firm up stand by 16 Jan

NEW DELHI: Conditional access system or CAS moved one step ahead towards likely implementation.

The Indian government today submitted before a Delhi court that by 16 January it would firm up its stand on CAS or addressability in cable homes, which would be conveyed to the court.

After this submission, the Delhi High Court has fixed 23 January 2006 as a final date for hearing of a case relating to implementation of CAS on a petition filed by three multi-system operators (MSOs).

The petitioners, RPG (whose cable business since then has been taken over by Zee Telefilms cable arm Siticable), the Hindujas-controlled InCablenet and Hathway Datacom, had moved the court arguing that suspension of implementation of CAS in 2004 has led to heavy financial losses for the petitioners who had been goaded by the then government in 2003 and 2004 to invest in addressability.

In 2004 after the general elections were held in India, a Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition regime in New Delhi had lost out to another coalition that is now led by the Congress party.

Just before the general polls, the then government had suspended an executive order that mandated rollout of CAS in the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

However in Chennai, which had been touted as a test case for CAS, cable homes have had a taste of addressability and where most of the pay channels are available through set-top boxes and on demand.

Since its suspension, political parties have dithered taking a stand on CAS as they feel its implementation might lead to an increase in monthly outflow of money for a cable consumer, which can translate into loss of a vote bank.

Govt. not averse to Trai formula on CAS

The Delhi court case apart, Indiantelevision.com learns that the government is moving towards the idea that suggestions on various methods of implementation of CAS, as enlisted by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), could be looked into.

This, sources in the government say, could be a way out of legal logjam, which has been plaguing the issue of CAS for long.

However, it might be pointed out here that even the present government has refrained from taking any stand on CAS, saying the issue is being still studied by various States where it was first supposed to be implemented.

Trai had submitted its recommendations on CAS to the information and broadcasting ministry in September-October 2004.

Broadcast and cable sector regulator had given the government three various options to choose from in the case of conditional access system and pricing control.

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