Government issues CAS notification; CAS in 3 metros by 31 December

MUMBAI: The government today issued a notification setting 31 December, 2006 as the deadline for the three metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata to be be fully "CAS delivered".

The notification honours a commitment made to the Delhi High Court which on 20 July had ordered that CAS (conditional access systems) should be introduced in all three metros on or before 1 January 2007.

The court, in its order had also made clear its resolve not to allow further delays in the matter, declaring that all pending and any new issues related to CAS raised by the government would be taken up only after the CAS' implementation deadline of 31 December 2006. Accordingly, it set the next date of hearing on the matter for 10 January 2007.

The notification states: "In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 4A, read with section 9 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 (7 of 1995), the Central Government, having been satisfied that it is necessary in the public interest so to do, and having regard to the aforesaid order dated the 20th July, 2006 of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, hereby notifies 31st December, 2006 as the date from which it shall be mandatory for every cable operator to transmit or re-transmit programmes of every pay channel through an addressable system in the areas notified by the Government of India in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting vide number S.O. 792(E) dated the 10th July, 2003."

The areas that fall under the CAS notification are the Kolkata Metropolitan areas, the areas covered by the Municipal Council of Greater Mumbai and the National Capital Region of Delhi.

MSOs and independent cable operators will have to work out commercial agreements with broadcasters including fixing of channel rates. Said SET Discovery Ltd president Anuj Gandhi, "Now the focus will be on MSOs to show their preparedness for CAS. We hope to be ready with our rates in the next three months. By setting 1 January as the deadline, we will have to compress the time frame a bit."

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