Friday, Jul 04, 2003
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By Anita Joshua
Maintaining that there was no going back on the July 15 deadline for implementing CAS in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, I&B officials said "area-wise rollout looks like the most likely option''. And, should the Ministry choose to walk this course, then CAS would be implemented in its totality complete with punitive clauses in the designated area from mid-July.
That this is the option under active consideration was evident today with officials and Multi-System Operators (MSOs)/cable operators pouring over maps of Delhi and Mumbai for a greater part of the day to draw up zones. While Delhi will be divided into four zones, Mumbai will have three.
As of now, the proposal is to introduce CAS in South Delhi and South Mumbai with MSOs/cable operators stating that they would need a fortnight to supply Set-Top Boxes (STBs) needed to access pay channels post-CAS to each area. And, as per their calculations, they would be able to cover the two cities in three months with the current supply flow of STBs; the availability of which has made the Ministry inclined to go easy on the punitive provisions of CAS if it were to be implemented in its current form.
While a fresh notification would be needed for a "zone-wise'' rollout as the prevailing notification mandates CAS for the four cities, this could well take a couple of days as the Ministry is yet to gauge the ground situation in Chennai and Kolkata. A joint secretary in the Ministry is slated to visit Chennai and Kolkata on Friday and Saturday to assess the scenario.
Even as the MSOs/cable operators today claimed that "zone-wise'' rollout had been suggested by them, the December 31, 2002, notification of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act provided for such a staggered introduction. The notification states that the Central Government can make CAS obligatory from different dates for "different States, cities, towns or areas as the case may be''.
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