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Trai offers government 3 options on CAS

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NEW DELHI: Broadcast and cable sector regulator is giving the government various options to choose from in the case of conditional access system and pricing control.



OPTION No. 1: In any state where price control is the objective then a model could be followed which

envisages partial freezing, while factoring in an additional annual increase keeping in mind the inflation.



This model is likely to suggest that the prices, frozen as of 26 December, 2003, continue, but the broadcasters, MSOs and cable ops can charge an additional 5 per cent, which would be considered as the annual inflation cost.



For example, if a cable op were paying a MSO Rs 100 for the area serviced, then, according to this option, the cable op would pay Rs 105.



The drawback of this system is that the present disadvantages of the system would continue, while the consumer is unlikely to have a variety of choices. Moreover, this formula would not be able to compete with the introduction of new technologies like KU-band DTH.



OPTION No. 2: This formula can be adopted where TRAP-ping the prices in a limited way is the objective.



Under this formula, the services could be divided in two tiers. The first tier would comprise the free to air channels, priced at Rs 72+5 per cent annual hike.



The second tier would comprise all the existing pay channels. This tier could be priced through a formula:

Rs. 72+5%+Rs. 5 (service cost for putting the TRAP system)+ X where `X' would denote the price of a pay channel to be decided by the broadcaster.



Any new pay channel after a particular notified date would be available only through set-top boxes.



The problems that are likely to be encountered if this option is taken that the revenue share disputes would continue unsolved and TRAP (a limited edition of a full-fledged addressable system received through a box) is not completely foolproof or hack-proof.



OPTION No. 3: CAS is made mandatory, but done so in consultation with respective state governments.



Drawbacks would be that to make such a formula in a country like India to really succeed heavy regulation and stringent implementation would be necessary, even as the issue of who'll-buy-the-box persists.



The regulator's recommendations, which may still see some changes being effected, does quote Taiwan's example in case of price control. In Taiwan, the price of the basic tier is regulated.

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