The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Next time, snatch and run

Sir — Disguise could not be an alien habit with policemen who may often be required to change names and attire to nab criminals. Pijush Chakraborty, a sergeant in the Calcutta police force, also changed his name, but to harass a businessman who was totally innocent of the charges the policeman levelled against him with impunity (“False-name mask for cop”, June 15). It goes without saying that this could not be the sergeant’s first attempt at making a fast buck. The speed at which Chakraborty laid out the “plan” shows that he has committed a similar crime before. His only problem lay in the fact that this time he chose the wrong businessman for his con job. Chakraborty is a blot on the police department, much like the five constables who tried to molest a girl on New Year’s Eve early this year. Chakraborty and his colleagues create a curious dilemma for us — who do we turn to then in our hour of need' After all, there cannot be too many Bapi Sens left in the department!

Yours faithfully,
Neha Goswami, Calcutta

Still inaccessible

Sir —The picture regarding the conditional access system still remains unclear. The CAS is supposed to give viewers the choice to see any channel they wish to. In the end, viewers do not seem to be left with much choice. For one, consumers will still remain dependent on cable operators for the supply of set-top boxes and their prices, which are supposed to individually vary from Rs 2,000 to Rs 7,000. Consumers technically will have the right to choose the STB they want to use, but in reality cable operators will be able to dictate their choice. Second, it is still uncertain how the use of STBs will bring down the cable bill. Till now none of the broadcasters have specified the price of individual channels. They are yet undecided whether to remain pay channel or to be free to air channels, in the interest of maintaining some advertising revenue. Consumers naturally have not started purchasing STBs because the prices of the channels are not clear and no one knows whether their favourite channel will become FTA or not. Third, consumers are still dependent on cable operators for the number of FTAs that they can view. While some multi-system operators can transmit 60 FTAs, others can air 70. But local cable operators may settle for far less than that, although not less that the government-stipulated 30 FTAs.

Who will ultimately benefit from the CAS regime' Not even the cable operators, at least initially. They will have to finance the STBs first, and that will add to their cost. The broadcasters will also lose out as there will be a decrease in their viewership and thereby in the advertising revenue. Thus no one will gain from CAS in its present form.

Yours faithfully,
Rishav Baishakhiyar, Jharkhand

Sir —Set top boxes have to be imported. Is it not advisable to withhold the implementation of CAS for another year, by which time some of the electronic companies in our country could begin manufacturing quality STBs at affordable prices' Let the present system continue with cable charges fixed at Rs 200 per month. It is amply evident that the CAS is not going to be beneficial for the middle classes and the elderly. Why does the government have to persist with such an unpopular programme'

Yours faithfully,
B.N. Bose, Calcutta

Sir— The ministry for information and broadcasting should give CAS more thought. First, the metropolitan area has to be properly defined. Second, the system has to be made foolproof. Consumers are still not free from blackmail by cable operators. In Howrah, for example, cable operators are already creating pressure on consumers to buy STBs for pay channels. If the government is really eager to solve the problems of cable viewers, it should allow more than one cable operator to function in a single area so that consumers benefit from the competition. The government should also try to fix the rate of the pay channels.

Yours faithfully,
Ramawatar Mundhra, Howrah

Sir— The government is almost goading viewers to buy STBs by reducing the import duty to 5 per cent for a limited period till July 31 (“Beam-box duty breather for viewers”, May 29). Beam boxes which cost Rs 5,000 will now cost Rs 3,000. But how many middle class families hooked to the television can afford even that much'

Yours faithfully,
Purnima Vasudeva, Calcutta

Power speak

Sir — The report, “Power law with power punch” (May 6) makes evident that consumers of electricity will once again get the rough end of the stick. The act which seeks to redraw the regulations which guide the power sector is one of the most draconian to be passed in the country. It once again shows up the lack of concern of our lawmakers as they stack the private players in the market with immense power which they could use against the public.

As the report points out, Section 135 of the act entrusts an assessing officer with powers of entering, breaking open, and searching any place or premise unquestioned. Even a police officer, income tax officer or an excise officer needs search warrants to raid a place. The arbitrary power given to power companies will encroach on the right to privacy of citizens. Remember, power companies are being given the sole authority to decide if the consumer has tampered with the power supply. The onus of proving oneself innocent is placed on the consumer. This will eventually create a fear psychosis among people and strengthen the hands of the private companies. With the government withdrawing from the scene, who will the consumers turn to in case of any grievance'

Yours faithfully,
Arta Mishra, Cuttack

Sir —Penalizing bona fide power consumers by disconnecting their power supply, as it happened in some parts of Park Street recently, because other consumers have failed to pay their bills is against natural justice. This is like punishing an innocent for a murder committed by someone else. The judiciary should step in.

Yours faithfully,
Md. Moinuddin, Calcutta

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