The Information & Broadcasting Ministry is yet to finalise on the notification dates for the rollout of the second, third and fourth phases of the conditional access system (CAS). In fact, the Ministry is awaiting a report from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) before it decides on this schedule.
“TRAI is appraising the matter and we are waiting for a report from them. The Ministry will fix notification dates for the next phases of CAS only after reviewing the report placed by TRAI. I still don’t know when this report will come in. It is therefore difficult to predict notification dates for the remaining stages of CAS at this moment,” said Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, Union Minister, I&B and Parliamentary Affairs.
PK Ravi, Deputy Advisor, TRAI, said, “The I&B Ministry would finally take a decision on notification dates. No notification dates for CAS have been frozen for Zones II, III and IV. We have already had meetings with multi system operators. Now, we have a meeting with broadcasters on May 16.”
According to A Mohan, Executive Vice President, Essel Group, and member of TRAI’s core panel on CAS, TRAI will present its report to the Ministry after interaction with broadcasters on May 16.
He added that the Ministry has not given any deadline to TRAI for filing the report. It will take a minimum of six months to implement the next phase of CAS. The ministry will issue a single notification with different dates outlining the implementation process. The notification should come in from the ministry by mid-June. CAS will definitely be implemented in a phased-out manner.
“A phased-out schedule of CAS implementation will allow MSOs to reorient them and upgrade infrastructure. There are 20 major independent MSOs including Hathway, Incable and Wire & Wireless, which is the erstwhile Siticable. The government is taking a little time to kick off the next phases of CAS to make sure that everything is in place before the exercise is unfurled,” added Ravi.
“This is to ensure that the consumer is least inconvenienced. There were some glitches when Zone I of CAS was beginning to roll out. One of the prime areas on which TRAI’s meet with broadcasters will centre is the Rs 5 tariff for pay channels in the CAS regime. Some broadcasters are unhappy with this level of tariff. They want consumers to go for CAS voluntarily and that it should not be unveiled as mandatory,” explained Mohan.
Mohan added that all outstanding issues between TRAI and MSOs have been cleared. One of the issues was the failure of some MSOs to provide subscription details to channels from their subscriber management system.