Gov’t cuts set-top fees

Price of imported box down to around $57

NEW DELHI — In a bid to make the Conditional Access System more consumer friendly, the government has announced a drastic cut in import duty on set-top boxes. The deadline for the implementation of the CAS system, which gives viewers the choice to pay for only the channels they watch, is July 14.

As the government-mandated deadline approaches, there are any number of controversies attached to the viability of the system. One of the main issues troubling consumers is the high price of the set-top box required under the CAS system. With the duty slashed from 51% to 5%, the price of an imported box will come down to approximately $57. The cut in import duty is applicable only until July 31.

But the slash has upset domestic set-top box makers who claim that lower-quality boxes will flood into the Indian market from China. The government is under pressure from consumers as well as political parties to review the deadline and make the system more people-friendly.

According to the Ministry for Information and Broadcasting, there is no move to postpone the deadline for the implementation of CAS. The system is to be rolled out simultaneously in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkatta and Chennai on July 14.