Media Planners To Rework Deals Post-CAS

New Delhi, May 6: | Updated: May 7 2003, 05:30am hrs
Top media planners are not committing any advertisements in channels post-July 15, when the conditional access system (CAS) is scheduled to be rolled out in the metros. With CAS just two months away from implementation, media planners dont want to take chances. So far, broadcasters have not announced the pay channel pricing and how they should be sold/packaged. Also, it is feared that there wouldnt be enough set-top boxes to cater to the entire CAS market in the metros.

Significantly, media buyers are factoring in the safety clause in their contracts. Said investments director at Mindshare India, Mr J Satyen, If CAS is actually rolled out in the metros on July 15, theres a possibility of pay channels turning free-to-air. Only free-to-air channels would be able to reach a critical mass under CAS.

Pointing out that CAS is part of any deal being struck currently, Mr Satyen said: According to the contracts that we are signing now, all deals will be reworked post-CAS.

Taking a harder stand, media director at Mudra, Ms Mona Jain, said: Unless I get a confirmation from the channels on whether they are going to be free-to-air or pay channels once CAS is introduced, I wont advertise in them. She added: Its my call entirely.

Another senior media planner, who did not want to be named, said in 10 days or so, a concrete decision is expected on the advertisement front. He said broadcasters are still deliberating on their distribution strategywhether to be pay or free-to-air channels. Media planners decision on advertising will be based on the broadcasters strategy.

Industry sources said that to assure media planners, some of the broadcasters had already started offering dual feeds, so that the same channel could be made available both in pay and free-to-air mode.

Pay channels turning free-to-air once CAS is introduced has been a matter of speculation for quite some time. But on Tuesday, the speculation gained strength when an SMS, circulated across the industry, said Fashion TV (FTV), DD Sports, Star News, Zee News and Alpha channels were turning free-to-air channels, from being pay all these years. Broadcasters have denied such a move.

Meanwhile, the government is likely to come out with two notifications on CASone for free-to-air channels and another for pay channels. CAS is all about allowing viewers to access pay channels of their choice through set top boxes and pay for only them.