A Case For CAS In Clone Channels!

New Delhi: | Updated: Jun 27 2003, 05:30am hrs
In the countdown to the conditional access system (CAS), while there are various options before the government, including a new legislation on advertising cap, it is banking heavily on the cooperation route now. Even as officials in the information and broadcasting ministry are busy studying the international models in the television industry to arrive at the best one for India, broadcasters idea of floating clone channels is giving them a new ray of hope.

Reacting to the plans of broadcasters such as Star, Zee and Sony on starting free-to-air (FTA) channels with programmes hand-picked from their driver pay channels, a senior I&B official said: These are the practical ways of doing things. Nothing could be better than this. There wont be any fresh programmes in the free-to-air channels, as planned by these broadcasters. The content here would be a repeat of what has been already carried in the driver channels, such as Star Plus, Zee TV and SET Max, which are pay. While the government feels the concept of twin or clone channels will ensure smooth implementation of CAS, sources called it a short-term measure in response to a situation (CAS).

Internationally also, a lot of broadcasters have twin channelsone in pay mode and another in FTA, with similar content, but different timings. The idea is to get subscription revenue from the pay channels, and ad revenues from FTA channels, with no extra expenditure on programming. Booking time on satellite is the only expense for the broadcaster.

But, governments next step will hinge on what broadcasters propose to the I&B officials next Monday, when the two sides meet again for yet another round on CAS. According to sources, the government would like to wait till then before taking any action. The options before the government include a legislation on advertising cap in pay channels. While some definite figures on advertising cap are in circulation, the ministry is still studying all the international models. Internationally, broadcasters (free-to-air) usually follow the norm of limiting their ad time to 10 minutes for a one-hour programme. Most pay channels in the West dont carry ads.