Wednesday, August 10, 2005

CAS - Why only Chennai ?

Chennaites are the victim of an experiment gone bad with no solution in sight.

Chennai has the dubious distinction of being the only place (in India) where the Conditional Access System (CAS) has been implemented. CAS was implemented in Chennai some two years back and since then neither has it been rolled out to other parts of India / Tamil Nadu, nor has it rolled back from Chennai.

What is CAS?
Conditional Access System (CAS) is a system by which electronic transmission of digital media is limited only to subscribed clients. The signal is encrypted and is unavailable for unauthorized reception. A set Set Top Box is required in the customer premises to receive and decrypt the signal.

Why CAS?
The cable TV industry is highly fragmented in India. It primarily consists of small operators who control the 'last mile' and few Multi System Operators (MSO) who control the access to content. In Chennai there are two MSOs (SCV & Hathaway) and few thousand small operators. The premium content providers like Sony, Star and others have been long complaining that cable TV operators highly deflate their subscription base to avoid paying the right fee for the premium content. The 'last mile' cable TV operators do things very loosely and from my experience in Chennai I do understand why the premium content providers would feel 'short changed'.

So, in order to regulate the cable TV industry and redress the grievances of the premium content providers, Government of India came up with this CAS system and chose Chennai as the guinea pig. That was two years ago.

Since then, Government of India tried to implement CAS in Delhi, Mumbai & Kolkatta but backed out due to various pressures.

While I believe the intent was good, it is a universally acknowledged fact that, CAS was implemented very poorly and it must go back to the drawing board. If that's the case:
  1. What's up with CAS in Chennai ?
  2. Why Only Chennai ?
I don't have a clue? Do you ?