The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CAS deadline stays

New Delhi, July 21: The information and broadcasting minister today stuck to the September 1 deadline for introduction of the conditional access system (CAS) despite a parliamentary panel’s doubts over the Centre’s preparedness.

I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad ruled out deferring CAS and said it would be implemented in staggered fashion from September 1 according to schedule.

“CAS will be implemented. We have to make it as consumer-friendly as possible,” he said after a meeting with the Prime Minister, his deputy, senior Cabinet colleagues including law minister Arun Jaitley, the BJP chief and Delhi BJP leaders.

Delhi BJP chief Madan Lal Khurana, who had been demanding that the capital be kept outside the purview of CAS till after Assembly polls, was present.

Prasad said the meeting had taken note of the report of the Standing Committee on Information Technology presented to Parliament today.

The report, prepared before the Centre announced deferment of CAS from July 15 to a phasing-in from September 1, found the government unprepared to implement the system for cable television.

It even made a case for postponing the regime’s introduction.

Committee chairman Somnath Chatterjee said: “The deferment till September 1 and the plan for a staggered introduction is an admission that the government is not prepared to implement CAS even now.”

The CPM leader said the rates of all the channels were not yet known.

The standing committee’s report on CAS noted that:

• The ministry of information and broadcasting did not have reliable figures on the requirement of set-top boxes that would be needed to view pay channels

• The ministry had not been able to settle issues such as mobility of set-top boxes (if a subscriber were to shift from one locality to another)

• The government should arrange to give 60 channels in the basic tier at the rate of Rs 72

• The government should ensure that rates of pay channels are transparent and bundling is avoided.

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