The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Set top box hits hurdle

New Delhi, June 14: Every time Union information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad thinks he has sewn up the conditional access system (CAS) package for the country, there is inevitably something that makes it come unstuck.

Yesterday, in Mumbai, he emerged from a meeting with Bal Thackeray claiming that differences on CAS had been resolved. Hours later, the Sena leader came out with a statement that that was not the case. Instead, he asked Prasad, to implement CAS in Delhi first.

In Delhi, in the meanwhile, there is enough for Prasad to be worried about and again in his home turf in the BJP.

Delhi BJP chief Madan Lal Khurana has come out against the implementation of the conditional access regime. CAS is slated to roll out from July 14 in the four metros and even as Prasad is claiming that several state governments have written to him requesting early implementation, opposition in the cities earmarked for the first phase of CAS simply refuses to fade away.

Delhi chief minister Shiela Dixit, too, has been sceptical of CAS and has written to the information and broadcasting minister wondering if it was necessary to impose a financial burden on the middle class that buying set top boxes would entail.

Khurana, along with BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, has also asked Prasad to reconsider the decision on CAS. While they have not opposed the system and the logic for it, they have urged a rethink as there has not been enough of an awareness drive. They have argued in favour of deferring the implementation of CAS till such time as it would take to convince the middle class.

Prasad is understood to have told Khurana and Mahajan that the ministry was doing everything to ensure that consumers were not hurt. But Khurana and Mahajan are said to have pointed out that the perception was not favourable.

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