The Madras High Court on Thursday stayed the central government’s decision on February 27 to roll back CAS in Chennai and South Delhi. The interim order was issued following the filing of a batch of petitions by consumers, cable TV operators and Multi-System Operators (MSO’s) including the Sumangali Cable Vision, one of the leading MSO’s in Tamil Nadu.
CAS, which was to be rolled out in the four metros Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata on July 15, 2003 had been implemented only in Chennai and South Delhi following widespread opposition from consumers and political parties.
Close to a week back, the Union Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry decided to roll back CAS following the recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) which has now donned the role of the cable industry regulator to put it on hold for at least three months.
However, the move had raised hackles among cable operators and MSO’s who have invested huge amounts of money in importing the set-top boxes (STBs) required to view pay channels under CAS.
CAS is yet to be rolled back in Chennai due to a stalemate in talks between cable operators, MSO’s and broadcasters who have not been able to arrive at a subscription rate post the disorientation of CAS.
Cable operators have been demanding Rs 300 plus monthly charges after CAS rollback. “We have not yet collected the monthly charge of Rs 72 for this month. The public is not willing to pay more than Rs 100,” said Mr Vijay Kumar, a cable operator in Chennai.