Around one and a half months after the CAS rollout in notified areas of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, at a two-day seminar organised by ScaT (Satellite and Cable Television), MC Chaube, Advisor, TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) said that the current tariff order is likely to continue till the middle of the year when there will be a review and re-look at the CAS rollout.
He said that the customer-centric Rs 5 limit on pricing for pay-channels was in line with TRAI's intention to enable viewers get popular content through affordable rates.
He added, "The shortage of set-top boxes is no longer an issue. The current battle is to get subscriber forms and put subscriber management systems in place". Going further towards deeper penetration of CAS, Chaube said, "CAS on mandatory basis may not work for non metros where more time may be needed to and hence, voluntary CAS may be the way forward."
However, he clarified that there is no bar on anyone voluntarily going for CAS implementation in non-notified areas.
According to him, the critical factor for voluntary CAS would be the ability of broadcasters and MSOs to reach a commercial agreement. He also made it clear that TRAI was just a carriage regulator and hence the date and areas of notification for CAS rollout would fall in the realm of the I&B Ministry.
The panel discussion comprising spokespersons of all the three major MSOs, WWIL managing director Jagjit Singh Kohli, Hathway CEO K Jayaraman and IndusInd Media & Comm Ltd CEO Ravi Mansukhani and TRAI advisor MC Chaube discussed issues on competition from other platforms, possibilities of a-la-carte pricing and bouquet pricing for voluntary CAS etc.
Chaube added that the CAS of 2007 was very different from the CAS of 2003 as in 2003, there was no regulator and the customer resistance then was much more.
Chaube said that the TRAI's regulatory framework stood on the three legs of tariff order, revenue share and quality of service. He also said that on the TRAI's agenda was also to strongly ensure that encryption takes place properly.
In the better interest of smaller MSOs in non-metros, Chaube voted for a longer notice period before voluntary rollout of CAS in other areas. He also hinted at the possibility of consolidation in the future, with smaller players likely to find the business unviable, once voluntary CAS is implemented.
However the TRAI does not find any compelling issues that need to be addressed before the middle of the year.