Joined: 24 May 2006
CAS for cable TV comes into effect tomorrow; there is no grace period
NEW DELHI: It's official. The conditional access system for cable television comes into effect in the notified areas of Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata on December 31 and there will be no grace period to make the transition.
The CAS enables a viewer to watch TV channels of his choice through a set-top box and pay only for those. For free-to-air channels (Rs77 plus taxes), set-top boxes are not required.
From December 31, your pay channels will go blank unless you hurry up and get yourself a set-top box to enable the CAS. The option to stay connected to your favourite soaps and films is to subscribe to the direct-to-home (DTH) services offered by Dish TV and TataSky.
According to Jagjit Singh Kohli, CEO, Wire & Wireless (of the Essel Group), "There is tremendous demand suddenly for set-top boxes for CAS." He said the combo schemes announced by Wire & Wireless, among others, have played a role in popularising the CAS.
Estimates suggest that only around 20 per cent of 2 million cable TV homes in the CAS notified areas in the three metros will have set-top boxes by the cut-off date. But Kohli was confident that the numbers would rise to 80 per cent within a few weeks. Hathway Cable CEO K Jayaraman made a similar assessment.
An industry source said that some broadcasters may make their pay channels free-to-air for a while to enable a smoother transition to the CAS.
"Some popular pay channels turned free-to-air in Chennai some three years ago when CAS was implemented in that city," he said.
For instance, STAR Vijay, a Tamil channel, is free-to-air in Chennai; elsewhere it is a pay channel.
But a STAR TV spokesperson said there is no such plan. ESPN India managing director RC Venkateish also denied any such move. Some multi-system operators (MSOs), however, are offering discounted rates on pay channels and attractive rental schemes for the set-top boxes.
Meanwhile, DTH service providers are seizing their opportunity. TataSky has announced a promotional six-month free subscription. One can avail of this offer till January 10. Ordinarily, the monthly tariff is Rs300.
On Friday, the Essel Group's Dish TV matched the TataSky offer across metros. But the subscriber will have to pay Rs2,950 plus Rs200 towards the hardware and a month's tariff. Dish has also announced a rental scheme for DTH hardware in the CAS-notified areas.
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