Differences within BJP over CAS

NEW DELHI DEC. 24. Differences between the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership here and the National Democratic Alliance Government at the Centre over the controversial Conditional Access System (CAS) for TV-watchers in South Delhi have come out into the open. The party spokesman and South Delhi MP, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, today asked consumers not to buy Set Top Boxes (STBs) "in a hurry" and urged the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry to put off implementation of CAS for some more time.

Mr. Malhotra has asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to study CAS-related laws in Pakistan and other countries and if need be make appropriate amendments to the Act and rules formulated by the Ministry. In fact, he has written to the residents of South Delhi, his constituency, advising them not to purchase STBs till all the impediments are removed. Mr. Malhotra is also understood to have taken up the issue with the Central Government functionaries and impressed upon them the need to let the market forces have their say instead of imposing a technology on the people of the country.

As regards the provision in the act that cable network can only be accessed through CAS, the BJP leader pointed out that if any such thing was there, the Government could amend the Act and let the consumers have the choice of accessing cable network through the present system CAS or Direct-to-Home system.

In fact, the Delhi BJP leaders are worried over the "rigid attitude" of the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, on the issue and are of the view that if corrective measures were not taken, it could earn them the wrath of the electorate in the Lok Sabha polls.

It is not only Mr. Malhotra but also other Delhi BJP leaders who are against the decision of the Union Government to opt for CAS without giving a choice to consumers.

High level meeting

The Delhi Chief Secretary today held a high level meeting with senior Delhi police and State Government officials to discuss problems relating to implementation of the Conditional Access System (CAS) in South Delhi. It was clarified that the option to rent or buy set-top boxes (STB) had been notified by the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Free-to-air channel at Rs. 72, exclusive of tax, would be the right of the consumers using or not using the STB. All the Deputy Commissioners and authorised officers have been asked to call local cable operators and Resident Welfare Associations for meetings to resolve all problems.

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