The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Centre dumps CAS onus on states

New Delhi, Sept. 15: The Centre has thrown up its hands on trying to implement the conditional access system by itself and has left it to the state governments. An amendment to the cable act was also in the works to vest the responsibility of implementing the set-top box regime with states.

However, the amendment would only be possible after the first phase of the regime was set rolling in some fashion in the four metros. Union information and broadcasting secretary Pawan Chopra asked representatives of the governments of Bengal and Maharashtra to suggest new dates from when pay channel signals would be encrypted and routed through set-top boxes in Calcutta and Mumbai.

“There seemed to have been an unstated consensus that CAS can be implemented in the other metros only after it is implemented in Delhi,” a source said.

The Bengal government’s representative, information secretary Basudev Banerjee, asked for clarifications on the modalities of implementing CAS. He also suggested that the state governments needed to set up committees to oversee the implementation.

This suggestion was taken up immediately and Chopra said it would be accepted with the minister’s consent.

The Bengal government representative said that in any case, the regime could not be implemented before the pujas. The festival season would last in Calcutta till October 27.

The state government has said that it would also need to renotify the zones in which CAS would be implemented. In the Centre’s notification, set-top boxes were to have become mandatory from September 1 in a large swathe of south Calcutta. The Bengal representative said there were also worries on the pricing of pay channels.

Other I&B ministry sources said that though the Bengal and Maharashtra governments were not putting it on the record, there was a distinct perception that CAS could not be rolled out in Calcutta and Mumbai before it was implemented in Delhi. CAS has been deferred in Delhi till the Assembly elections.

The Maharashtra principal secretary (home), Jeevan Vibhar, is understood to have told the Centre of the state administration’s concern on the set-top box regime being used to disrupt law and order. The police in Mumbai were already overstretched, he said.

I&B ministry sources said that henceforth, “the Centre’s role in CAS is going to be a little less ‘central’. We see justification in empowering states to become a registering authority for cable operations. It would be easier to systemise and enforce changes in that way.”

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