After putting the conditional access system (CAS) on hold for an indefinite period, the government is moving on to the intricacies of other broadcasting technologies, such as direct-to-home (DTH) and broadband. Tata Sons, the Indian partner of STAR, for the DTH venture, is planning to make a presentation to senior government officials on its direct-to-home business model very shortly in Mumbai. It is understood that Tatas would pump in around Rs 800 crore into the broadcasting venture.
Broadband showcasing will come next, from two corporate houses—Tatas and Reliance. Tatas have already expressed their interest in taking the government on a broadband trip, according to sources close to the development. Reliance is also likely to intensify its pitch soon on broadband, in terms of making an impact on the government. The broadband committee of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is also in the process of making presentations to various government ministries.
Meanwhile, the government has not closed the CAS file yet. The controversial cable TV distribution system was denotified recently, without specifying a time frame by when it would make a comeback. At the moment, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is focussing on issues related to the cable TV industry before going forward on CAS.
According to a senior official in the information and broadcasting ministry, the revival of CAS is dependent on modifications in the system, agreements between broadcasters and multi-system operators, and the success of DTH in the country. If the Tata-STAR DTH venture in India repeats the success story of UK’s BSkyB, cable TV may be pushed to the second position, said the official.
Subhash Chandra-promoted ASC Enterprises soft-launched its DTH venture in October 2003, and public broadcaster Prasar Bharati is also planning its Ku band project sometime in the near future.