Boxed Option: Over To A Bit Of CAS Now

New Delhi | Updated: Sep 21 2004, 05:30am hrs
Those set-top boxes could come handy once again. The government is considering various options to introduce conditional access system (CAS), and bit of CAS or conditional CAS tops the list. The other options being explored are mandatory CAS, optional CAS and CAS through a system called TRAP, according to sources in the government.

CAS is all about accessing channels of your choice through a set-top box.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is finalising recommendations on CAS, which was being seen as a hot potato not too long ago. Trai is expected to send its recommendations on CAS to the government this week. The regulator has already indicated that its not going to give any solution, in relation to CAS, but only options.

A source close to the development explains what bit of CAS means. It is essentially conditional or experimental CAS, where one will need a set-top box only for new channels. But, it could be a little complex to implement CAS only for new channels, he added. However, the view in the government is that this is the most feasible option to introduce CAS in the country. Also, as a concept, CAS cannot be junked, it is felt.

This time again, government is planning to introduce CAS only in metros. But, unlike in the NDA regime, the Centre will need to consult state governments before a decision is taken.

According to government sources, legislative changes are likely in the Cable Television Networks Act to introduce CAS.

CAS, which was mandated by the NDA government for metros, had turned into a controversial issue last year. As a result of a series of court cases, CAS was not rolled out anywhere, except in Chennai and a part of Delhi. As of now, CAS exists only in Chennai.

Trai is expected to issue recommendations on direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting also, besides CAS.

On DTH, Trai is working out a formulation, based on the American Communication Law, for non-discriminatory sharing of channels. But a source pointed out that the non-discriminatory sharing arrangement would not include exclusive telecast rights to an event, for instance cricket.