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CAS rolled out in South Delhi

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Dec. 15

AFTER much political hullabaloo surrounding the implementation of the conditional access system (CAS) in the Capital, the new system was rolled out in the southern zone of the city on Monday.

For cricket lovers who could not catch the action of the fourth day's play of the India-Australia Test series, the fifth day's action would be made available as the cable service providers have decided to offer Star Sports till the end of the match. Also, some popular channels such as Star Plus and Sony would be made available for some more time.

But day one has been a mixed one. While some parts witnessed a complete blackout of all pay channels, other parts did get to watch their favourite soaps and serials.

The larger multi-system operators (MSOs) such as Siticable, Hathway and Spectranet switched off the pay channels, but smaller independent operators continued to air them.

Mr Jawahar Goel, Head of Siticable, said: "CAS has been implemented quite successfully. We stopped telecast of all pay channels from Sunday midnight in the Zone I notified for CAS. Consumers would have to buy set-top boxes (STBs) for viewing these channels, which are available under several schemes at reasonable prices."

The implementation of CAS is now a cable service providers' show, with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and broadcasters in a wait-and-watch mode.

"We will be watching the rollout for the next few days and observe consumer feedback. The Government will then nominate officials to conduct inspection of cable operators," said Ministry officials.

The Ministry has also asked the cable service providers to conduct door-to-door publicity of the rental scheme and pay channel rates and also confine CAS to the notified areas and not let it spill over to un-notified zones.

The Centre also found an ally in the newly elected Chief Minister, Ms Sheila Dikshit, who while favouring the new system regretted that adequate information had not been provided to consumers. "We will do whatever is required to be done by my Government for implementation of the system," she said, adding that her Government would issue press advertisements giving detailed information to the public about the system.

"There is a lack of clarity about the system. A consumer does not know what benefits the system will have and how much he will have to spend after it is introduced."

The broadcasters, on their part, are also viewing the rollout process. "We are in talks with cable operators to get a fix on the individual rates discuss the fresh contracts," said a spokesperson for Star India.

Meanwhile, MSOs and cable operators have been working out the rates of various pay channels and STB schemes. Consumers can either rent a STB or buy one. In addition, they will have to pay a viewing card deposit and activation charges.

According to Government estimates there are about 2.4 lakh cable homes in South Delhi and about 5,000 boxes have been in demand. Cable operators, however, peg this at a higher number.

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