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Stakeholders allay set-top pushback fears

Calcutta, Aug. 27: Stung by speculation that a pushback of CAS in the city was being advocated by the ruling Left, major stakeholders sought to allay fears and pump belief back into consumers.

A strong denial came from the government itself. The chief minister’s principal secretary Arun Bhattacharya, who met two top officials from the Union information and broadcasting ministry at Writers’ Buildings in the morning, told The Telegraph: “No request for any postponement of CAS in the city has gone out to the Centre from us.”

The city’s leading service provider, RPG Netcom, was the most vocal. “They have both expressed satisfaction over our preparedness to roll out CAS and have categorically told us the addressable regime is on schedule in Calcutta,” said RPG Netcom director Dilip Sen.

Sen was speaking to reporters in the wake of the one-day recce by I&B ministry joint secretary Rakesh Mohan and additional secretary Vijay Singh to review Calcutta’s CAS-worthiness.

The RPG Group stable multi-system operator (MSO), which feeds more than 60 per cent of the city’s cable homes, is keen on a timely rollout of the regime, having sunk Rs 30 crore in the technology.

“A pushback at this juncture when we are all geared to go would be disastrous,” iterated CEO Amit Nag. The MSO is planning to introduce a digital platform by October 1 to complement its initial analog model, and has also declared a package of 31 popular pay channels — RPG Express — for Rs 138.

SitiCable, which has invested more than Rs 10 crore to implement CAS in the city, is also not amused at talk of a pushback. “What will we tell our customers if conditional access is postponed and they demand refund for the boxes'” asked Siti vice-president Soumen Roy Chowdhury. The MSO has already sold more than 5,000 boxes and activated around 2,000, beaming a bunch of free-to-air channels as CAS preview.

Consumer forums’ representative Mala Banerjee, who also met the I&B officials during the day, told Mohan and Singh the city is ready for the new system.

“I told them we would have preferred a one-shot rollout instead of the phased pattern. They assured me that once Zone I is on track, efforts would be initiated to connect the rest of the city and its fringes at one go by September 10,”she said.

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