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 ?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Vidyuth

    Can you send me your email address as well please ?

  3. I am clueless.! I wanted to buy a SET while I was in India in 2003. But I was told that pretty soon they will be withdrawn. Its now 2005 Aug.! Wonder what's going on.!

  4. First time in your blog. Nice post!
    The CAS as a system is good for the customers. One can pay for the channels for which
    he is interested in. But ths situation is, a chennaite has to pay more for the channels that he wants to watch than a person lives
    outside chennai. I thought, it would be scrapped as it was not a big success as expected. I could decipher that it still continues because of political thingy but clueless about how both J and MK are mutually benefited out of this?

  5. first time here, as a fellow madrasi i feel tat cas is bad,
    earlier i was paying 300\month, after CAS i will have to pay Rs300\month (channels come in packages not individual, so to watch english channels ill have to subscribe to a whole bunch of hindi channels which i wont watch)plus 3000rs capital expenditure, Sundaresan, how has my bill reduced? infact it has gone up!

    cas only in chennai cause DMK controls cable and they arm twinsted politicians to implement CAS, otherwise it wudnt have happened i guess

  6. Vatsan,

    I told "a chennaite has to pay more for the channels that he wants to watch than a person lives
    outside chennai". But, if the packages were designed in a customer friendly way and implemented throughout the place, in a long run, it would be economical for the individual including the cost of STB.

  7. i doubt it, when i pay i dont want the irritating ads, if channnles dont come wit ads, then i dont mind incuring the cost of a STB etc, not if the programmes come with ads. the packages wont be designed in a customer friendly mnner, channels which r new\dont have veiwship will be bundeled wit ones which r popular, therefore ill be forced to subscribe to them.
    if i want to watch AXN and National geo i have to subscride to Zee and Sony(both i dont watch, and have low polularity in madras cause i need the other two)now ur aiming at something too altruistic from thse guys, in a monopolistic envorinment the idea is to rip the consumer!

  8. Vatsan & Sundaresan

    Thanks for your visit & comments..

    While the intent of CAS was good.. shoddy implementation has it made it worse for Chennaites..

    Also, the pricing is not uniform.. My uncle living in a village off of Kumbakonam gets 100+ channels for less than INR 175 a month. Living in Chennai, I pay INR 100 per month for the 'free' channels under CAS regime and used to pay INR 300 per month before CAS..

    There are lot of such anomalies like this one..

    I feel either CAS should be implemented uniformly & fairly or it should go..

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.