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Cable wars: Govt, consumers on CAS course

Is CAS a must? A fever that swept India along with young Harry Potter's latest adventure and mega Hollywood releases.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2004 20:02 IST
PTI

(Naresh Mathur)

It was supposed to be a panacea for all ills plaguing the cable industry in the country, but itself became a problem. Conditional Access System (CAS), a brainchild of the then I&B Minister Sushma Swaraj to rein in the largely unorganised cable sector ended up causing hysteria at all levels -- government, political parties, industry participants and consumers.

To check frequent and arbitrary price hikes by local cablewallahs and under-reporting of their subscriber base, the government had thought of introducing a simple gadget -- a set-top box that would decrypt pay channels and ensure their delivery to the consumers' TV set.

However with the largely imported devices proving costly, the scheme ran into stiff opposition from Day 1. Arguments that the option of choosing all channels through a Rs 3000-5000 set-top box would compensate for the cost as monthly charges that a customer would pay to the cable operator seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Initially slated for a July 1, 2003 launch in all the four metros, CAS got delayed for a variety of reasons. First a new I&B Minister (Ravi Shankar Prasad) came to helm of affairs. Later intense lobbying by both cable operators and consumers also took its tool. Finally, with Assembly polls in Delhi looming large, the BJP government at the center did not want to do anything that would upset the electorate. A decision was therefore taken to implement CAS in Chennai first.

A rap from the Delhi High court ensured that CAS gets to see the light of the day in the Capital. The rollout has happened but with consumers and cable operators already falling out in South Delhi, it remains to be seen what the long-term of the technology are.


Harry Potter casts world-wide spell

(Suman Tarafdar)

120,000 copies sold within a fortnight of its release. Not even textbooks, the largest categories of books sold in India has ever equaled this record. So when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix set sales records, everybody took notice. The boy wizard's fourth adventure has already sold over 240 million copies worldwide in 55 language and Braille!

The book had its worldwide release on June 21, a Saturday. And given the way people queued up not just in biblio meccas like New York and London but also in yuppie towns like Delhi and Hongkong, spending the night before in front of bookstores, the success of the book had been ensured even before it was launched. Penguin, distributors in India, had ordered 60,000 copies for India. Within a week of its launch, they were forced to ask for 60,000 more and they are already looking at over 200,000 copies sold already.

Would the fourth instalment sell as well? Rowling, the author of this marketing success story, need not have bothered to worry. For Amazon.com had received orders for a million copies well before its launch. The hysteria translated itself into a promotion blitz – Potter movie screenings, Potter quizzes, music gigs, free merchandise – the world seemed to have gone 'Potter'y.

Harry Potter: The Magic Begins

First Published: Dec 27, 2003 21:09 IST