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Duty cut on set-top boxes may be extended

July 26, 2003 18:20 IST

The government is likely to extend up to September 30 the 45 per cent duty cut on set-top boxes required for viewing pay channels under conditional access system.

The information and broadcasting ministry has already sent its proposal to the finance ministry seeking such an extension in view of CAS implementation being deferred from July 15 to September 1 in the four metros, sources said.

The government had in May cut import duty on the boxes from 50 per cent to five per cent upto July 31 bringing down prices of set top boxes ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 by around Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000.

The government was to revert to the old duty structure from August 1.

Earlier, the STBs used to attract 25 per cent basic customs duty, 16 per cent countervailing duty and five per cent special additional duty, which together worked out to around 50 per cent.

Sources said the indigenous industry was not in a position to produce set-top boxes and were apprehensive about manufacturing them before the controversial CAS was actually rolled out.

However, despite the political pressures, the sources indicated that roll-back of CAS was becoming more difficult with each passing day and the exercise to ensure a smooth implementation was on.

The government is not likely to consider raising the free-to-air package rates from Rs 72, as demanded by the Cable Operators United Front.

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