Pay channels were blacked out from the television screens of thousands of south Delhi homes with the conditional access system (CAS) coming into effect — as directed by the high court — on Sunday.
These households had neither procured set top boxes (STBs), which are required to watch pay channels under the CAS regime, nor taken direct-to-home (DTH) connections, the other option.
Cable operators saw a rush of people asking for STBs, mainly because nobody wanted to miss the special programmes on New Year’s Eve.
The day was also marked by confusion. In several colonies, major broadcasters continued beaming pay channels until afternoon.
An Information and Broadcasting Ministry notification had made it clear that beaming signals for pay channels in the notified areas after the deadline was illegal. The problem was corrected after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) pulled up the defaulting broadcasters.
Some Delhiites were inder the impression that the deadline for implementing CAS had been extended. “I delayed going to my cable operator to get an STB. I had to rush for it in the evening,” said Rashmi Gupta of Kalkaji Extension. A senior TRAI official said some broadcasters too were under the impression that CAS was to be implemented from Monday.
In the evening, the Delhi government sent teams to ensure that three prominent multi-system operators licensed by TRAI had started encrypting the pay channels. These channels can be decoded only through an STB.