Meet to finalise new pay TV norms ends in deadlock

Thursday, 19 June 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: A crucial meeting to finalise norms for the roll out of a new cable television system in India that is projected to completely transform the entertainment landscape for millions of viewers ended in a deadlock Wednesday.

The meeting, called by the information and broadcasting ministry, failed to achieve any breakthrough with cable operators rejecting the proposals given by the broadcasters, official sources said.

The meeting was expected to finalise details of which television channels would be free-to-air and pay, rates of each pay channel, and details about arrival of the set-top boxes.

Under the Conditional Access System (CAS), television viewers will have to pay for an imported set-top box, a flat rate for a group of free-to-air channels and extra for pay channels.

The government plans to roll out CAS in the four Indian metros of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai on July 15 ahead of a nationwide implementation in a phased manner.

"Today's meeting has ended in a deadlock due to disagreement between cable operators and broadcasters. Cable operators say proposed pay channel prices are too high," said a ministry source, refusing to give further details.

Under the new system, while pay channels have to be compulsorily routed through a set-top box, which will cost as much as 2,500, the consumer will have to pay 72 plus taxes to receive as much as 70 free-to-air channels.

The new system will allow viewers to choose what channels they want and pay only for those. Currently cable viewers pay a flat fee of between 100 and 300 per month to watch all 70-80 pay and free-to-air channels.
Source: IANS
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