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I&B boot after set-top setback

New Delhi, Oct. 14: Heads are rolling in the information and broadcasting ministry after the set-top box regime was all but thwarted by the Delhi, Maharashtra and Bengal governments.

Rakesh Mohan, the joint secretary (broadcasting), who was immediately responsible for executing the law after the Cable Networks’ bill was amended to make the conditional access system (CAS) mandatory, has been removed from his post and put on “compulsory waiting” by an order of the department of personnel and training.

Union information minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is understood to have been unhappy with Mohan because the joint secretary was not available during crucial preparatory periods after CAS was mandated for the four metros in January this year. The first deadline for its implementation was July 14.

Prasad has felt that while sections of the cable TV industry were at odds, the ministry on its part had not done its homework well.

The minister has been holding a grudge against certain officials who he perceives had painted a rosy picture of CAS, without assessing how it could be implemented.

The regime, which has been effectively shelved in Delhi and deferred indefinitely in Mumbai and Calcutta, is a feeble beginner in parts of Chennai.

Mohan and former additional secretary (broadcasting) Anil Baijal were architects of the Cable Network Amendment bill when Sushma Swaraj was the information and broadcasting minister.

Prasad has been complaining in private that he was forced to walk the tightrope on problems he has inherited, such as CAS.

Baijal had moved out to the Delhi Development Authority before Prasad took over the I&B ministry, and his place was taken by Vijay Singh. Mohan, too, now looks to be on the way out.

As joint secretary (broadcasting), he handled crucial policy matters such as CAS, an uplink policy for television news channels and a controversy brewing over the STAR-promoted Radio City’s licence to run an FM channel.

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