The newly floated Multi System Operators Association (MSOA) of Tamil Nadu has called for extending the Conditional Access System (CAS) for cable entertainment throughout the State.

Addressing a press conference, MSOA office-bearers said a CAS regime across the State such as the one in Chennai was imperative for MSOs and cable operators to survive in the era of DTH and IPTV.

“The extension of CAS will not only enable MSOs to deliver pay channel bouquets at affordable rates but also empower subscribers to choose what channels to pay for,” said P.V. Kalyana Sundaram, General Secretary of the Association.

In the present situation, MSOs, which functioned as a bridge between broadcasters and cable operators, were facing dwindling share of revenue even as they paid hefty sums for pay-channel bouquets. Even Tamil channels which were free-to-air in CAS-regulated Chennai came with a hefty price tag elsewhere in the State.

The MSOs wanted the MSO-cable operator network that provided entertainment to 80 per cent of the total TV homes in the State to go digital to improve quality. The cable industry which is currently anchored in analogue technology only has carriage capacity for about 80 to 90 channels though there are about 475 channels available for downlinking. It is also not possible to filter channels in analogue format.

Office-bearers pointed out that though the digitisation of the cable industry began as an offshoot of the mandatory CAS regime introduced in 2004, progress on this front had been snail-paced, with barely 7 per cent of the total television homes in the country having the privilege to choose what they viewed.

“We are demanding acceleration of the digitisation of the cable industry in the larger interests of the subscribers,” said B. Jayaraman, MSOA president.

The other demands of the association include opening a chapter of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal in Chennai, fast-tracking the proposed Broadcasting Bill, subsidies for set top boxes and recognition of cable operators as service providers and provision of right of way on public roads.