Parliament gives thumbs up to CAS

By , agencyfaqs!, na | In Advertising | December 11, 2002
The Upper House on Tuesday passed the amendments to the Cable TV Regulation Act, 1995

agencyfaqs! News Bureau

The Indian Parliament on Tuesday paved the way for the introduction of the conditional access system (CAS) in the country when the Upper House passed the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2002, that sought to amend the Cable TV Regulation Act, 1995. The Lok Sabha had okayed the legislation in the monsoon session earlier this year. The Government proposes to introduce CAS in the country in a phased manner over a timeframe of 12 to 24 months.

With the introduction of CAS, the consumer will have to pay for only those channels that she/he wishes to see. The Government will determine the maximum price for the basic tier of service comprising free-to-air channels later. The amendment makes it mandatory for cable TV viewers to access pay channels through a set-top box at the subscriber's end. The price of the pay channels would be market determined. However, subscribers may have to pick up the tab for the set-top boxes that would be available at a price range of Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000.

Broadcasters, who were earlier opposed to CAS on the ground that it would disrupt their viewership, and consequently revenue, in a statement through Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), welcomed CAS. "We will work closely with the Government in implementing CAS in the country to everybody's advantage," declared Bhuvan Lal, executive director, IBF. According to cable operators who welcomed CAS, the 60-odd free-to-air cable channels are likely to priced at around Rs 150 per subscriber home. The question that remains unanswered is, whether pay channels would be able to air advertisements on them.

The Government move to control television channels follows frequent hikes in the cable TV subscription rates in the last two years. The average monthly cable TV bill for a subscriber in a metro has in the last one year gone up from Rs 150 to around Rs 250. Networks like Sony Entertainment Network and ESPN-STAR Sports have recently hiked subscription rates to Rs 55 and Rs 32 per subscriber home, respectively. The ZEE-Turner bouquet is also slated to up its rates from Rs 40 to around Rs 55 per subscriber home. In a surprise move, however, STAR TV on Monday announced a 25 per cent cut in its rate card to Rs 30 per subscriber home.

Against this backdrop, industry observers see the move to introduce CAS in the country as a decisive step to end arbitrary hikes in cable TV subscription rates. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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