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Trai order has broadcasters resuming negotiations on CAS

20-January-2004
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Trai order has broadcasters resuming negotiations on CAS

After being in a wait-and-watch mode for long, television broadcasters have bounced back in the CAS (conditional access system) scene. For the first time in several months, broadcasters had a formal meeting on CAS and other commercial issues of the sector here on Monday. The meeting, it is understood, was triggered by the recent Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) order which had frozen the monthly cable TV rates.

The Trai was given the additional responsibility of regulating cable and broadcasting services recently, following a Delhi high court order.

Although there were talks of broadcasters moving the court over the rate-freeze issue, a source close to the development said, “it would be an individual company’s decision, if at all”.

As per the Trai order, the payout (consumers to cable operators; cable operators to multi-system operators (MSOs); and MSOs to broadcasters) amount throughout the country would prevail as on the December 26, 2003 rates. Since the Delhi high court had on December 26 directed that CAS must continue for three months on a trial basis, the same date had been taken for specifying the ceiling rates. These rates would be applicable till further orders from the regulator. Some broadcasters, who had recently increased their subscription rates, are upset with the Trai order.

Broadcasters would finalise their plan of action in a board meeting of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation on Tuesday, ahead of an interaction with Trai chairman Pradip Baijal. The regulator has already put up its consultation paper on CAS in the public domain.

The CAS, which is all about watching pay channels of your choice through a set-top box and paying for only those channels, was initially scheduled to be rolled out in the metros in July last, but was deferred till September. But, Chennai was the only metro to have introduced CAS in September.

While the Centre deferred it in Delhi citing Assembly elections, respective state took up the cudgels to put the system on hold in Kolkata and Mumbai. In Delhi, however, a high court order had ensured that CAS was implemented in the first zone of the city in December.

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