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Cable industry wants CAS extension in metros
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The cable industry wants the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) to expedite the extension of conditional access system (CAS) in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata and 55 other cities.

CAS, which is currently enforced in selected parts of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata since January 1, 2007, was supposed to be extended to the rest of the three metros last year. CAS helps reduce the monthly cable bills of the consumers as the pay channels are priced at about Rs 5 per channel. Additionally, 30 free-to-air channels come at a nominal monthly outgo of Rs 82.

The Multi System Operators (MSO) Alliance, the apex body of large cable distribution firms like Hathway, InCable, WWIL, DEN and others have written a letter to the I&B ministry in this regard.

The letter says that the MSO Alliance requests government to issue the concerned CAS extension notifications at the earliest as there is a compulsory 180 day sunset clause for CAS to be actually brought into effect in the new notified areas.

The MSO Alliance’s letter gains significance in the backdrop of recent statements from senior I&B officials at the recently concluded Ficci Frames in Mumbai last week where it was stated that the CAS extension in the existing metros and the next phase of CAS will be cleared soon by the I&B.

Even the apex body of cable operators, Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI), has written a similar letter to the I&B ministry, said Roop Sharma, president, COFI.

The MSO Alliance statement said: “Though the initial deadline of October 2008 has been crossed, the MSO Alliance strongly urges that the regulator’s recommendation needs to be expedited for early implementation and accordingly the process for issuing government notification and required legislation needs to be expedited.”

However, senior officials in the I&B ministry say that currently the focus is on finalising the policy guidelines for Headend-in-the-sky (HITS), a satellite-based cable distribution system that will automatically enforce voluntary CAS.

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