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Conditional Access Systems: Cable operators question taskforce’s objectives

08-October-2001
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Conditional Access Systems: Cable operators question taskforce’s objectives

Cable operators feel that formation of taskforce on the Conditional Access System (CAS) may just delay implementation of addressibility through cable network. While cable operators have been demanding CAS for over two years, the government has recently constituted a taskforce to figure out the desirability and feasibility of CAS.

According to Cable operators, asking the task force to find out whether CAS is desirable or not is actually a delaying tactic. According to them the objective of the taskforce should have been to lay down the modalities of CAS and not to make a desirability report. The inclusion of broadcasters in the taskforce is likely to result in scuttling of the CAS move altogether.

According to Broadcasters, cable operators are not keen on implementing CAS at present as it might prove to be a dampener on their ‘subscriber number game’. Broadcasters need to quote subscriber number to their advertisers, and once CAS comes into effect, real viewership number would automatically come up. This will leave no rooms for channels to fudge viewership numbers.

According to Cable operators the real objective of the taskforce should be to implement CAS with immediate effect. As per cable industry estimates, the average cost of set-top boxes would be around Rs 3,000. Over and above that, a subscriber would need to pay around Rs 8-10 per pay channel per month. With CAS, a viewer will be free to choose the pay channels that he wishes to watch. For-free-to-air channels, however, there will be a flat monthly charge of around Rs 150-175.

The terms of reference of the taskforce, according to the government order, include making recommendation on the feasibility and desirability of introducing CAS for TV viewing through the cable network. The taskforce comprises Star TV’s Peter Mukherjea, Sony TV’s Kunal Dasgupta, Sun TV’s Sharad Kumar, representatives of the cable industry, government officials and consumer activists.

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