CAS Will Not Be Deferred In Mumbai

New Delhi, Aug 29: | Updated: Aug 30 2003, 05:30am hrs
Conditional access system (CAS) will not be deferred in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, according to highly placed sources in the government. This is despite all the doubts surrounding CAS implementation from the scheduled date of September 1, particularly in Mumbai, after it was deferred in Delhi. According to indications available from the government, unity among the CAS stakeholders is emerging. Stakeholders refer to cable service providers, last mile operators, and broadcasters.

Even as there has been severe political opposition to CAS in Mumbai, sources were confident that, stakeholders will persuade the Shiv Sena leadership to implement the system now. Behind the changing scenario was a deal struck between multi-system cable service providers and operators today related to distribution modalities, said an industry insider. The sentiments were conveyed by a distributor based in Mumbai, who did not want to be named, that, CAS is on track. Officials in Mumbais leading MSO, Hathway, were not available for comment.

However, Shiv Sena-backed Mumbai cable operators continued with their anti-CAS stance. One such operator, Mr Anil Parab, whos also on the CAS Implementation Committee, said: Theres no readiness or demand in Mumbai, as far as CAS is concerned. Replying to a categorical question on whether CAS would happen from September 1, Mr Parab said, impossible as market modalities were still to be worked out. An official with a leading broadcaster agreed that theres no movement of set-top boxes yet.

According to sources close to the development, the Centre would not defer CAS in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, but would go for a soft launch. That is, those viewing pay channels without set-top boxes from September 1 would not be penalised. On record, government kept quiet on issues related to CAS all through the day.

Meanwhile, there were reports that the West Bengal had sent a letter to the I&B ministry, saying that CAS should be put off. Only two days ago, Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray had said that CAS would not be allowed in Mumbai. Some top-level political meetings are expected on CAS, before the September 1 launch.