Govt Says No To Broadcasters Plea For One-city CAS Rollout

New Delhi: | Updated: May 1 2003, 05:30am hrs
Despite the demands made by some television broadcasters for a single-city rollout of the conditional access system (CAS), the government appears firm on its policy. According to a senior official in the information and broadcasting ministry, CAS will be made mandatory in all four metros on July 15.

Although a group of broadcasters had recently proposed to the Standing Committee on IT, that a pilot one-city rollout would result in a smooth implementation of CAS, the government is not impressed with the idea. Theres no question of starting CAS with a one-city roll-out, said the

official, adding that the original all-metro plan will be adhered to.

According to some broadcasters, initial one-city rollout will be ideal because sufficient number of set-top boxes are not available in the market. So, they suggested to the Standing Committee, in a presentation, that CAS can begin with one city, maybe Delhi, and then gradually move on to others. CAS is all about enabling viewers to access pay channels of their choice with the help of set top boxes.

Besides one-city rollout, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has been pressing for removing the cap on the number of channels in the basic tier. As per current norms, the basic tier will contain 30 free-to-air channels. It will be priced Rs 72 plus taxes. The government has indicated that there would not be any change in stand, as per CAS implementation is concerned.

But, government norms have sometimes been revised even at the last moment. In the case of uplinking of satellite channels, the government is understood to have made some last minute changes in the guidelines, to give transitory permission to some channels to uplink from India. In the case of CAS, the notification is still awaited.