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CAS: Delhi viewers still in dark
January 05, 2004 18:46 IST
There appears to be no end in sight to the woes of South Delhi TV viewers, with no word from the government on whether it plans to scrap the launch of conditional access system and cable operators threatening to take legal recourse in case it does.
In fact, cable operators said on Monday that if CAS is withdrawn, they will be forced to hike the total cable bill to beyond Rs 600 per month and said government inaction and broadcaster monopoly were responsible for the present fiasco.
Led by Hathway, Siti and independent cable operators' unions, the cable industry demanded the resignation of Information and Broadcasting Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, terming the present controversy a "reverse scam".
"The implementation of CAS was done under a high court order and if the government plans to bring an ordinance to scrap it, we will go to court and appeal against this," Rakseh Datta, a cable operator, told newspersons in New Delhi.
Another cable operator Roop Sharma accused the government of favouring broadcasters, saying it was the government's duty to set up a regulator, which will determine individual and bouquet prices for pay channels besides determining advertising revenue etc.
"Unless CAS is implemented, consumers will suffer. Their monthly cable bill will go up. Broadcasters have again hiked pay channel rates and we have no option but to pass this hike on to the consumer," he said.
Meanwhile, official sources said the I&B ministry was "dissatisfied" with the field report given by Delhi government on consumer response to CAS, and may ask the state for additional details.
Vikki Chaudhary, another operator, wanted to know what was the government doing about "predatory pricing" by pay channels, which forced consumers to purchase entire bouquets instead of individual channels.
"We would also like to tell the consumers not to buy set top boxes at present. Let broadcasters realise their faults and soon several pay channels will become free to air, like it happened in Chennai," he said.
Meanwhile, CAS and problems being faced by consumers under it have been discussed at the highest level in the government with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee favouring a "more people-friendly" system, official sources said.They said the I&B ministry was consulting the law ministry on all options before it.
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