The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Centre soft on set-top

New Delhi, July 28: Grilled by Opposition and National Democratic Alliance MPs alike, information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today told the Rajya Sabha the Centre would not “impose” set-top boxes on viewers.

“Set-top boxes will not be imposed,” Prasad said during question hour after MPs, cutting across party lines, expressed scepticism about the Conditional Access System (CAS).

“We have maintained from the beginning that we want to introduce set-top boxes in a consumer-friendly manner. There is no question of rushing the system. Enough set-top boxes must be available,” the minister said.

He added that 300,000 set-top boxes would be available by September 1.

But MPs interrupted Prasad and wanted to know if the Centre was favouring any particular lobby. Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Nirupam asked: “Is CAS being introduced to favour service operators like the Hindujas in Mumbai'”

BJP member Nanaji Deshmukh criticised the Centre for “imitating” the American and British models of regulatory authority for broadcasters.

“Why should this government always look to US and UK for support' What is the point of setting up a Rs 20,000-crore regulatory body'” he asked.

The minister responded that the Centre was neither influenced by the US and the UK nor was it spending a lot of money.

“The arena of broadcasting is widening — new players are coming up and a regulatory authority is needed for this,” said Prasad.

Urging the members not to oppose CAS, the minister said some broadcasters were against the system because it would reduce their advertisement revenue.

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