Regulators

CAS rollout: Delhi HC 'no' to government plea for more time

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NEW DELHI: The Indian government yet again pleaded for more time to roll out CAS --- six months to be exact --- but a Delhi court has refused to accede to the request, asking for a final stand on the issue by the next date of hearing.

According to information available with Indiantelevision.com, even the broadcast regulator pleaded for two to three months time to sort out CAS-related issues like pricing of TV channels.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) submitted to the Delhi High Court today that it has initiated a dialogue with the industry stakeholders on issues related to CAS, which would take a few months time to complete and some consensus arrived at.

However, the court was critical of such pleas and fixed the next date of hearing for 19 July.

On the arguments forwarded by the government for more time, the court said the maximum that could be given is 90 days as authorities have already consumed considerable time in carrying out an earlier order of the court.

On 10 March, the Delhi HC had directed the information and broadcasting ministry to roll out CAS in Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai within a month?s time.

The court observed that if the government is unable to sort out CAS matters, then it could also explore the possibility of going ahead with the rollout based on the Chennai model.

Chennai is the only city in India where CAS has been rolled out and running smoothly since 2003.

A clutch of MSOs, including Hathway and INCablenet, had filed a case against the government on CAS in the Delhi High Court late 2004, alleging that keeping addressability in abeyance had resulted in financial losses to the petitioners.

In the representation made before the court today, the petitioners alluded to the possibility of the government having plans to do away with mandated CAS completely. In this regard they made references to the relevant sections from the draft Broadcast Bill 2006, which is currently being circulated amongst government organisations for further feedback.

When the government counsel expressed his ignorance of a draft Broadcast Bill, leave alone plans of junking CAS by making it voluntary, the counsel for the petitioners furnished a section of the draft Bill in the court.

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