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Govt puts off CAS implementation

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Govt puts off CAS implementation

The Centre accepted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai) recommendation to postpone the conditional access system (CAS) implementation.

"We have decided to accept Trai's recommendation and suspend implementation of the CAS," said a official of the information and broadcasting ministry here.

"The central government, having been satisfied that it is necessary in public interest so to do hereby suspends the operation of notifications of the government of India from the date of publication of this notification until such date as may be notified by the Centre," the notification said.

As per the notification, the earlier notifications of January 14 and July 10 on the CAS stand suspended.

The government also said implementation of the CAS should be in a manner "that is in the larger interest of the public and safeguards the interest of consumers, which unfortunately in the present situation is not possible unless the issues raised (by Trai) are addressed".

According to officials, the CAS or any other television distribution system should be implemented only after the regulator works out laws to govern the broadcasting sector.

"Any new television channel distribution system, may it be CAS, DTH or any other system will be implemented only after a comprehensive law to govern the broadcasting sector is in place," said a senior government official.

Before allowing any new system of television channels distribution, the government will initiate consultation with Trai, state governments and other stake holders.

Meanwhile, Trai has set up a committee with representatives from state governments to form regulations pertaining to television distribution.

The committee will also examine issues relating to the prices of individual pay channels vis-a-vis bouquet of channels and promotion of competition in the television distribution business through the introduction of direct-to-home (DTH) and braodband services.

In its interim recommendations to the government earlier this week Trai had said that it would require three months to finalise regulation pertaining to the broadcasting sector.

Trai has also recommended postponing the roll-out of conditional access system (CAS) till it frames a legal frame work to govern the broadcasting sector. Sources pointed out that this is the first step by the regulator in this direction.

Trai had, earlier this week, recommended that the CAS should be kept in abeyance for at least three months following opposition from all the four state governments where it was to be implemented.

"The present system of CAS needs immediate reconsideration as offences are being committed by cable operators in showing pay channels without set-top boxes and with state governments having requested for reconsideration, state authorities are not fully implementing the provisions of the Act," Trai said in its interim recommendations on the CAS to the government.

Among the issues raised were a deep divide among stakeholders and the opposition of all four state governments, where this system was to be implemented.Trai had said in its recommendations that state governments of Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, whose officers were charged with the responsibility of implementing the CAS, had opposed its introduction in its present form, making it obligatory for the regulator to streamline procedure in consultation with state governments before ensuring its implementation.


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