All the stakeholders of Conditional Access System (CAS) met on April 3 at the behest of the I&B Ministry and agreed on a roadmap saying a minimum period of seven months was required to implement CAS after the due notification by the government. If the roadmap is approved by the Court, for which the government has to file for an extension appeal, CAS will see light of day only next year.
In Monday’s meeting no major broadcaster was present except the representative from the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF). Due to the absence of broadcasters, no progress could be made on the a la carte pricing front of individual pay channels. While MSOs and individual cable operators are demanding individual rates for pay channels instead of only bouquet rates, broadcasters are opposing it saying it would lead to increase in prices for the end user. The stakeholders will meet again next Friday where all the broadcasters are also expected to be present.
Speaking to exchange4media, some cable operators complained that the broadcasters were not cooperating for the early resolution of the issue. Some felt that the 2003 notification, which pegged the price for 32 basic channels at Rs 72, was no more relevant and demanded a minimum of Rs 100 to the cable operators apart from the service tax.
Presenting the broadcasters’ front, Naresh Chahal, Director, Finance, IBF, raised the issues of under declaration, standardisation, quality service, etc.
CAS is back in the limelight after the Delhi High Court ordered the government on March 10, 2006 to implement CAS within a month’s time. While some observers that the time period ends on April 10, 2006, Ministry sources said that they had received the order only on April 2, 2006, so the deadline had just started.