CAS Ordinance Only If Cable TV Rates Zoom

New Delhi: | Updated: Aug 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
An ordinance to introduce the conditional access system (CAS) looks unlikely in the current scenario. Even as the Monsoon session of Parliament adjourned sine die, without taking up the Cable Television Network Amendment Bill 2002, among several other bills, in the Rajya Sabha, sources indicate that ordinance is a remote possibility, if cable TV rates are under control.

Although government officials are in a state of readiness, in case an ordinance on CAS needs to be introduced, its the cable television industry which would guide the developments. That is, only if cable TV viewers are forced to pay unreasonable subscription amounts, the government may take action and introduce an ordinance, sources said. Whether or not there will be an ordinance on CAS will depend on the behaviour of the cable industry, said an official in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

Also, it is felt that information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj would prefer to introduce CAS through Parliament. However, if cost of cable TV goes out of hand, one might think in terms of ordinance, added the official.

When the Monsoon session adjourned before time, there were talks that CAS would be introduced via ordinance. But with other political developments dominating over other issues in the past few days, CAS is hardly a priority for the government now. So, the bill is likely to make a comeback in the winter session.

When CAS is introduced, not only will it impact over 38 million cable TV homes, it will also influence the cable and satellite TV industry.

CAS or the addressibility system is all about watching the channels of your choice through a set-top box and paying only for what you choose. But, part of the choice will be made by the government. Consumers will however be able to opt for either the basic tier for a monthly fee or taking pay channels for an additional payment.