Monday, December 29, 2003

In CAS we trust

CAS is the latest buzzword and castrating it the latest fad. Politicians are not expected to support anything that doesn't translate into votes, but what happened to the great Indian Middle Class that takes pride in being progressive?

A group of South Delhi RWAs went to court against the experiment in the area. The court however did not acquicse to their demands and made it clear that Delhi has to take the next step in cable TV revolution.

Not long time ago, the autorickshaw drivers of Delhi, led by some politicians, went on a strike against CNG. The reason was that the government had asked them to buy CNG kits that cost a couple of thousands of rupees. There were rallies, processions, debate and what you have. Government didn't buzz. Today Delhi breathes easier.

So how different are those among us, who oppose CAS, different from those blackmailing autorickshaw drivers? Are we opposing things just because we resist change. We would not have been a country of a billion people if we could take to the idea of family planning.

There are just too many similarities in how Delhi is dealing with CAS and how it dealt with CNG. The natural gas had its share of teething troubles. Conditional Access has its own.

THEN: There is not enough gas. Conversion kits are very expensive. The gas causes explosions and buses are catching fire. CNG doesn't have the power, so vehicles drive very slow.

NOW: There aren't enough set top boxes. Set top boxes are far too expensive. Now we'll have to pay double the amount we did. The picture quality is bad. The box gives you electric shock.

CNG was not connected to any of those issues listed in the THEN crib. Neither is CAS with the NOW cribs.

CAS is the logical progression from the cable-operator controlled TV veiwing. It's primary goal is to give consumers the choice of paying for what we watch. Better picture and stereo sound come as added benefits.

In the existing cableoperator system, you get all the channels out of which you may be watching just a handful. CAS will give you an option to pay and of course watch only the channels you want. Besides the cablewallah could hike his rate, as he's done in the past much to your anger, whenever he liked.

Pay channels are pay channels even without the set top box. You have been paying for Star and Zee even now. It's just that you are not sure whether this money reaches Star or Zee. Cablewallahs lie to broadcasters and government about the number of homes they reach.

They do not pay entertainment tax to the government, though they collect it from you. The business became so lucrative that underworld and mafia elements established networks and muscled their way to prosperity. The Multi-Service Operators (MSO) like Siticable, Hathway and INCable, bigger companies bound by the book, had to accept what the cable guy said.

It's not that the cable guy would disappear. But he cannot lie about the numbers because MSOs would give consumers the STBs. It will make the business transparent. It'll cut out the increasing pollution in the cable industry.

TV channels would have to bring down their subscription rates as they would like to reach into all homes. Many pay channels would go free-to-air and ultimately benefit the viewer. You'll know what you are paying and who you are paying.

Some people have confused the matter with the coming Direct-to-Home television. A newspaper went to the extent of asking people to wait, till DTH is "imposed", said the other. Well, you do not need to wait for DTH. It's already here. DTH is the next step after CAS and they co-exist.

The DishTV DTH (launched by Zee) has all the Zee channels with some international channels. And you have to pay DishTV a monthly bill for the pay channels on the bouquet. But it does not have Star or Sony or Discovery. Tomorrow Star would launch a DTH service but may not have BBC or CNN or Zee TV.

If you decide to buy the Dish TV later, you can ask your cable operator to remove all the Zee bouquet channels from your bill.

For CAS, one doesn't have to buy the set top box, you can rent it from your cable operator. If you decide to buy, there is no harm for you can return it to the cable operator whenever you want, he will refund the deposit.

Politicians have delayed it enough for the Assembly elections here. CAS was supposed to be here a long time ago. Now is the time for Delhi to come together and help clean the cable TV system and breathe easier.

No comments: