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Writer: exchange4media News Service - Monday, Feb 02,2004 6:23 AM

`Fate of CAS hinges on TRAI recommendation'

The Government will take a final a decision on the future of the Conditional Access System (CAS) depending on the recommendation made by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, said.

He also sent out a stern warning to the stakeholders of the television industry that the Government would have to exercise its `options' if the consumer's interests are not served.

Though Chennai was the first city where CAS was implemented, there were certain teething problems, he said. The main problem was one of distribution at various levels.

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Ms J. Jayalalithaa, had also written to the Centre asking for a withdrawal of CAS, he said.

TRAI is going into the entire gamut of issues surrounding CAS and will be coming out with its recommendations, but the Minister did not indicate when the recommendations would be out.

Mr Prasad said that the industry has grown at a rate of 31 per cent and the revenue in the television industry more than doubled in the past few years, from Rs 900 crore - Rs 1,000 crore a couple of years ago to a Rs 15,000 crore today.

The Minister is in Chennai for the inauguration of the community radio station at Anna University.

He said that this was the first community radio station besides the five stations of Akash Vani.

The Government, he said, planned to start a radio revolution in the country by taking this media first to universities and schools and then to local communities with the help of NGOs.

He said there would be new programmes at Doordarshan and that the channel would soon be available in Europe and England.

The channel has been asked to telecast cricket matches free-to-air , he said. Prasar Bharti will soon have a 24-hour news channel, he said.

Earlier in the day, the Minister inaugurated the Chennai edition of the Rajasthan Patrika. He said that he did not believe in censorship and urged the press to impose self-regulatory curbs on it.

He said that there has been 26 per cent growths in newspaper readership from 2001 to 2003.There were 1,906 dailies in the country, he said.

When the TV channels started booming, there was apprehension in some quarters that people would stop buying newspapers.

Today there are 100 TV channels and 47 of them are news and current affairs channels. Yet newspaper readership has been going up.

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