Star signs first CAS agreement in Delhi

NEW DELHI: Star India looks like being the first major broadcaster to sign on to the CAS bandwagon.

In a clear statement of intent directed at its detractors who have been claiming that India's leading broadcast network is only paying lip service to the government mandated rollout of addressability, Star has signed up with one of South Delhi’s biggest independent cable TV networks, Home Cable, for CAS-enabled services.

This agreement between a broadcaster and a cable network also heralds that the "CAS dawn" is around the corner.

Says Star India president - advertising sales and distribution Paritosh Joshi, "We have sent out CAS agreements to all the cable networks operating in the CAS notified areas of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. We expect to have signed contracts in place well within the government-stipulated deadlines."

"Other than Home Cable, we expect to sign up the other networks in Delhi like SitiCable (now called WWIL), INCablenet and Hathway (26 per cent owned by Star) by tomorrow evening. In Kolkata there are seven or eight networks while in south Mumbai the main ones are Hatway and INCablenet," Joshi pointed out.

Addressability is an issue that has been buffeted by various forces, including political ones wherein the underlying theme had been to stall it as long as possible.

Home Cable is owned by Vikki Chowdhry and services a sizable number of households in the posh Maharani Bagh and New Friends Colony areas of South Delhi where CAS is scheduled to be rolled out from 1 January 2007.

According to Chowdhry, “The court mandated CAS has to be rolled out and since my network was one of those that has registered with the government, it is better I finish signing up the various agreements with broadcasters as soon as possible.”

Those cable networks and MSOs who have applied for government clearance for CAS rollout in Delhi include WWIL, the Hindujas-controlled INCablenet, Hathway and few other independent operators who have big networks servicing a large area.

CAS is scheduled to be rolled out in south zones of Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi from the midnight of 31 December 2006 wherein all pay channels would have to pass through a set-top box on a mandatory basis.

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