Conditional Access System

CAS or conditional access system, is a digital mode of transmitting TV channels through a set-top box (STB). The transmission signals are encrypted and viewers need to buy a set-top box to receive and decrypt the signal. The STB is required to watch only pay channels. The idea of CAS was mooted in 2001, due to a furore over charge hikes by channels and subsequently by cable operators. Poor reception of certain channels; arbitrary pricing and increase in prices; bundling of channels; poor service delivery by Cable Television Operators (CTOs); monopolies in each area; lack of regulatory framework and redress avenues were some of the issues that were to be addressed by implementation of CAS It was decided by the government that CAS would be first introduced in the four metros. It has been in place in Chennai since September 2003, where until very recently it had managed to attract very few subscribers. It has been rolled out recently in the other three metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. As of April 2008 only 25 per cent of the people have subscribed the new technology. The rest watch only free-to-air channels. As mentioned above, the inhibiting factor from the viewer's perspective is the cost of the STB. The Indian TV regulatory authority has recommended that all Cable operators be given 5 years to change from the analogue system to the digital platform (July 2008).

Downloadable Conditional Access System
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Downloadable Conditional Access System or DCAS is a proposal advanced by CableLabs for secure software download of a specific Conditional Access client (computer program) which controls digital rights management (DRM) into a OCAP-compliant host consumer media device.

Additional circuitry needed to run the OCAP operating system would be required. OCAP programs then would be used as the sole method of interacting with DCAS since it will enable cable companies to force the download of new security software. It is proposed that instead of a card with removable circuitry. has no set deadlines for support on all cable systems. which in turn is pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. the specification even in draft form is not currently public. removes the need for physical set-top boxes or CableCARDs currently required to protect encrypteddigital content. DCAS software would run on this custom chip. DCAS System Diagram DCAS. as currently envisioned. DCAS is a controversial proposal for a variety of reasons: it currently does not exist. a custom ASIC chip be soldered onto the circuitboard of any digital cable-ready device. a standard also created by CableLabs for which products began appearing in August 2004 as part of industry compliance to the FCC mandate. and requires an operating system (OCAP) that a majority ofconsumer electronics (CE) manufacturers do not wish to implement. .The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) proposes that DCAS be used as a substitute for physicalCableCARDs. may not satisfy FCC requirements that security modules be separable.

Proponents assert that DCAS is more supportable since DCAS devices would not require a qualified technician to install the card. The scheme may be used more broadly and is being advanced by Rupert Murdoch's company NDS as a DRM method useful also for portable media players and other devices not attached to cable networks. This secures the information transmitted in the link between the cable company and the consumer device. . it may not be replaced as is the case with CableCARDs. or after a set period of time. Besides decryption. and that technicians are not required to insert CableCARDs anyway. It is asserted by proponents that DCAS provides greater security for the cable industry because it allows them to change their entire security structure by downloading new software into host devices. It is asserted that if cable companies are finally forced to agree on a standard for two-way communication that CableCARDs will be able to be remotely configured as would be the case with DCAS devices. A working DCAS prototype was created by Samsung and NDS for the cable industry and was demonstrated to the FCC in November 2005. If a particular encryption algorithm is cracked. Detractors assert that the final version of DCAS may require a physical card insertion. DVRs.we expect downloadable security to be supported nationwide by MSOs by July 2008. and set-top boxes (still required to support legacy nonOCAP-compliant devices).The basic purpose of DCAS is to implement DRM protection in software. which devices it may be transferred to and if transfer or recording is permitted. supported by future OCAP-compliant consumer devices such as digital televisions. Detractors note that if the physical circuitry is compromised.. since they are merely the same kind of cards that consumers routinely insert in their laptops. it can be replaced by another one.[1] According to Brian Dietz of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA): .. Some DCAS scenarios do use removable cards: OCAPbased devices may incorporate internal support for a kind of "smart card" (similar to the currentSIM chip in a GSM cell-phone) to identify the subscriber and provide further protection. the DCAS software controls how the content is used²whether it must be deleted immediately after viewing.

the European Commission has recently . as the FCC directed in 1998. Detractors of DCAS point out that the proposal is being used to sow fear. as evidenced by their behavior with their earlier CableCARD proposal. Detractors point to this as the latest in a decade-long set of delaying tactics that the cable company has used to avoid compliance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996.The appearance of DCAS as a possible future technology has been used as a reason that the FCC should release cable companies from obligations regarding CableCARDs. CE companies. and doubt in the minds of consumers. The Consumer Electronics Association representing major consumer electronics manufacturers disagrees with these applications for waivers pointing to the insubstantiality of the proposal and that cable companies are notoriously late and half-hearted in their support of their own standards. broadcasting and information society services (IS services) have been making ever-increasing use of conditional access devices. Consumers are motivated to hold off buying CableCARD devices. Cable companies point to DCAS as a reason that they should be released from their obligation to use CableCARDs in their devices. In order to improve the legal situation of providers of broadcasting and IS services. Cable companies counter that CableCARD devices have failed in the marketplace and that it would be foolish for them to be forced to use CableCARDs when the superior technology of DCAS will soon be available. and it causes doubt amongst FCC regulators whether they should enforce deadlines and restrictions placed on cable companies regarding CableCARDs. Verizon FiOS wishes to be released from having to support CableCARDs at all on its network. This trend is expected to gather pace as the market for these services develops. CE companies are wondering whether their CableCARD technology investments will soon be obsolete. The conditional access device (CA) provides the user with a technical facility which allows him to determine who has access to electronically-distributed services and under which conditions. uncertainty. and the FCC. Definition In recent years.

Today's conditional access systems still support traditional pay TV revenue generation.the possibility: . or consisting of. and promotions to subscribers by geographic area. However. Using today's conditional access systems. sports. and pay-perview programming. The definition of conditional access indicates the two key features of CA .You can take advantage of conditional access features to implement flexible program packaging options and support new ways of generating revenue. In addition they enable TV operators to create and protect a unique gateway to the enhanced TV experience .a world of interactive services. conditional access has evolved far beyond this role. The traditional role of conditional access is to ensure that viewers see only those programs that they have paid to view. by market segment.conditional access (CAD)This Directive introduces a common standard of legal protection for conditional access devices. including home exercise control over the access to a service or content which is transmitted electronically . In the digital environment. games. advertisements. Conditional Access System (CAS) is defined as any technical measure and/or arrangement whereby access to the protected service in an intelligible form is made conditional upon prior individual authorization. it focuses exclusively on conditional access devices that serve the remuneration interest of service providers and makes no provision for CA devices that serve other interests. or according to subscribers' personal preferences. interactive advertising. you can target programming.drafted and adopted a Directive on the legal protection of services based on.

on the basis of this technology. be sent to the receiver in encrypted form as an entitlement control message (ECM). mainly to prevent undesirable material from being delivered to minors. Encryption is the process of protecting the secret keys that are transmitted with a scrambled signal to enable the descrambler to work. certification of parties and integrity of data. This layered approach is fundamental to all proprietary CA systems in use today. The main conditional access techniques which are currently supported are: . Fundamentals Of CAS A conditional access system comprises a combination of scrambling and encryption to prevent unauthorized reception. but also for other applications. called the control word must. . which involves authentication of users. The CA subsystem in the receiver will decrypt the control word only when authorized to do so. of course. The scrambler key. devices based on biometrics will also be increasingly used to implement conditional access.encryption devices.. particularly within the framework of banking services or any other activity. Evaluating and filtering devices are also increasingly used in the Internet control the conditions under which access is granted. content or material is sent only to selected receivers.password devices . In the longer term. " Push technologies" in the Internet domain could possibly also be assimilated into access control since. that authority is sent to the receiver in the form of an entitlement management message (EMM). such as the secure delivery of professional documents.

subscription rates. At the retail level are the franchisees. # The cable operators are accused under-reporting.Reference: http://www. sports. # The basic tier must carry three channels of Doordarshan besides other genres such as entertainment. The Bill had already been passed by the Lok Sabha. The addressable system is mandatory only for those subscribing to pay channels. According to estimates the cable operators reports just a fifth of their subscribers list to the MSO. children¶s programme and music. The Bill seeks to regulate cable operations and authorized the government to mandate installation of an addressable system for accessing pay channels-better known as Conditional Access System (CAS). news. Below the broadcasters are the multiple system providers (MSOs) who receive the signals beamed to them by the broadcasters and distribute them to their franchisees. and the number of subscribers receiving programmers transmitted in the basic service tier or particular programme/set of programmers transmitted on the pay The penetration Cable TV Business in Indian households The Cable TV Business industry has evolved into a pyramidal structure with the broadcasters-Zee. and not for viewers opting for free-to-air channels. # CAS would first be rolled out in the four metros of Delhi.seminarprojects. deliberately documenting a much lower number of subscribers than they actually. Kolkata and Chennai. . # The amendments makes it mandatory for every cable operator to submit to the central Government information on the number of total subscribers. # The Government will fix the maximum amount. # The amendment empowers the Union Government to issue a notification making it obligatory for every cable operator to show any pay channel through an addressable system only. Some of the major flaws run as: # The subscribers have practically no choice in selecting their channels or choosing their cable operators. # Cable operators would have to offer a minimum of 30 free-to-air television channels in the basic tier package and charge a fee of Rs 72. # Inaccurate data has made the revenue sharing in a fair manner difficult. which a cable operator may charge a subscriber for receiving free free-to-air channels included in the basic service tier. The Cable Television Networks Amendment Bill 2002 The Rajya Sabha has passed the Cable Television Networks Amendment Bill 2002. the neighborhood cable operators-who distribute a bouquet of free and pay channels for an all-inclusive subscription to the end consumer. Star. Sony at the top. Hence there is a consequent revenue loss for the \MSOs and the broadcasters as well as the Government. This could vary from stet to state and city-to-city. Mumbai. Highlights of the Amendment: # The Amendment seeks to regulate the operation of cable television networks in the country so as to bring uniformity in their operations. # The Conditional Access System (CAS) comes into force on July 14. This exponential and unregulated growth of the cable TV penetration in the Country has exposed the flaws in the current system.

typically at monthly intervals to avoid hackers gaining access. let us start with highlighting the key problems that are required addressed for the effective implementation of the CAS. The consumers will need to procure a STB from their cable operator if they choose to watch pay channels that they watch today. which are Rs. enable the descrambler to work. say Rs.CAS is composed of a combination of scrambling and encryption technology that is designed to prevent unauthorized reception. all pay channels will be routed through a set top box. The Conditional Access subsystem in the receiver will then decrypt the control word only when authorized to do so. More than 65 FTA channels will be provided at a basic cable TV fee. but fewer channels of his choice with better service and hopefully. called the control word must. Voluntary Adoption of CAS is difficult The cable operators/ MSOs will need a set of equipment through which such television signals can be monitored for each subscriber to account for appropriate collection from them and subsequent payments to broadcasters. Thus both mechanisms assure the continuous security of the CA system. The problem of . which the small players may not be able to afford. The authority to decrypt is sent to the receiver in the form of an entitlement management message or EMM. Affordability for the Average Consumer # The consumers will have to pay a much higher fee for receiving pay channels and its choice will be restricted to only those channels made available by the cable network. it is necessary to lay down a brief outline of the working of this system. is also changed. or bouquets. The consumer will also not have the choice of watching the free-to-air channel of his choice. The best-case scenario. The scrambler key. Encryption is the process of protecting the secret keys that are transmitted with a scrambled signal that. from the consumer point of view. 72 plus entertainment taxes.The latest Delhi High Court judgment brings to the forefront the debate of voluntary or mandatory adoption of the Conditional Access System (CAS) in India? But. Free-to-air channels will be delivered as a part of the basic cable TV fee. Mandatory Adoption Of CAS? To analyze whether this technology should be mandated by the government or should be left open to the market players to be voluntarily opted for. Working of System . consumers will then have the option to choose between different cable distribution channels. which will have individual or bouquet pricing. Pay channels would find few-takers if majority of consumers perceive them as exorbitantly priced. in turn. or choose between different cable distribution channels. 3. With a fixed basic service charge. 2. # The bill also proposes to "legalize" consumers being charged differently in different areas to receive the basic service which may contain different channels as may be determined by the government. This will require large investments from the cable operators. sometimes also referred to as the multi-session key. The Question Of Voluntary blackouts. Typically the control word is changed at intervals of 10 seconds. he would be paying roughly the same amount. for which no STB is required. be sent to the receiver in an encrypted form as an entitlement control message (ECM). The cable operators/MSOs will also need to procure set-up boxes (STB) to be able to provide them to consumers for a defined price. 1. The layered approach is fundamental to all proprietary CA systems in use today. 200 per month now.Expected Consumer Response # Consumers opting for set up boxes to access pay channels would depend on the affordability and choice factor. before analyzing whether this technology should be mandated. With the implementation of CAS. of course. The entitlement control message. What Is Conditional Access System? Conditional Access System (CAS) is a technology that enables television signals to be accessed by consumers through an addressable system hereby allowing the consumer to choose channels that she wishes to watch and pay for.

The main myths and misinformation about CAS are: # CAS is a crackpot scheme by the government .In the absence of CAS is required to curb µunder-reporting' their subscriber base. This has triggered misinformation.major broadcasters like Star.The reliance should not be on exaggerated estimates rather experiences in other countries might prove to be useful in this regard. Media Generated Myths Creating Uncertainty about CAS The government notification issued on 15 Jan 2003 mandated use of CAS by MSOs and cable operators within six months by 14 July 2003. cable operators and end consumers. solving the never ending feud between cable operators and broadcasters on under-declaration of subscribers and provide a clear indication of numbers for pay channels chosen and viewed by customers. II. Sony not pricing channels individually and making them available in bouquet form still exists. being the front-end dealer with the consumer. In Cable and Siticable -. MSOPS like Hathway and SCV have already rolled out CAS in Chennai very successfully and also promoted their digital cable TV services in other markets. Zee. # Operator¶s resort to massive under. With the installation of set-up-boxes their true viewership figures will come into the open. genre. CAS would also bring in addressability.Leading MSOs -. # With CAS Consumers can hope for a better deal.said CAS is useful for all stakeholders. their clients as well as the telecasters. which would be helpful in assessing the actual popularity of pay channels. A STB is even required for pay channels in DTH. But with CAS. Also some installment schemes are being worked out by the MSOs. myths and negative press stories that have the potential to derail the process. and uniform and hence less fragmented. # The Government has the power to fix the maximum that cable operator¶s can charge for viewing the free-to-air channels in what is called a basic tier. # A subscriber wanting Zee TV only ha to pay for the entire networking bouquet consisting of ZEE English. etc. including broadcasters. This is of immense utility to the advisers. # There are many pay channels entering the foray every single day and each consumer has to pay even for all channels that he does not view. # 6. However if he wishes to watch pay channels.Hathway. CAS would also enable the cable industry to become more organized. healthy. # Broadcasters of so-called premium channels often claim huge popularity and viewership as a justification for charging huge rates from the advertisers for their programmes. face the flak for television blackouts and are also at the receiving end from the broadcasters. the consumer can easily budget is entertaining expenses and also view programme in the order of his preference. III. ZEE MGM.90 per cent of the world cable market where it is deployed agrees that CAS is essential and is the only solution to an organized cable industry. ZEE Cinema. He will also have the option of value-added services. CAS also brings in numerous technological benefits such as capacity up to 1000 channels. It took other developed markets like the US and Europe over . # CAS will put place a more accurate system of date collection. The LCOs. favourites. then he will have to install the STB which will be available for a refundable deposit of Rs 999 and rental at the rate of Re 1 per day. and broadcasters demanding payment from all homes resulting in a stand off. CAS will eliminate all this. The customer can view all the free-to-air channels (60 channels) at Rs 72 plus taxes. This is important for them while negotiating rates for advertising slots. Positives of CAS It is important to clear the misunderstanding that it is mandatory to purchase a set-top box with the introduction of CAS.reporting.7 million Boxes will be required. Thus increasing transparency in the distribution and exposing certain myths in the viewer ship patterns. etc. the actual viewreship and its distribution over the different channels. Multi-System Operators [MSOs] said that they are ready to roll out Conditional access system for cable broadcasting in the four metros.

It's again a myth that all analog systems are easy to pirate.Competition took average cable rates from Rs 100 to a just Rs 157 over a decade. However. there is no reason why the pay channel rates as well as the basic tier rates will not go down too because of competition. This is an inevitable task and the government¶s demand to ask for more time to find a solution for smooth transition seems justified. A comparative analysis of the two systems may prove to be helpful in assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the two: Though DTH does not require the services of the LOC¶s who remain indispensable in case of CAS. # Nowhere in the world has CAS rolled out so quickly. Instead of taking this technology neutrality as a disadvantage of CAS. The government is on the right track and any delay will only postpone the inevitable. This flexibility would also offer more choices to the consumer also. in accordance with the technological advancements. IV. they will be forced to work together and cut deals to ensure a faster roll out. the brighter side of CAS should be seen because the government. . Box costs vary from Rs 2750 (analogue) to Rs 5000 (digital). They would then work together to meet subscription targets within a specified period after which the channels would revert back to the pay mode. # Boxes will cost Rs 7000. This would be a win-win situation for both of them. which cater to the world market. # Even broadcasters are not keen on CAS. It was urged that local manufacture of STB¶s would encourage domestic manufacturers as well as generate jobs. What remains to be seen is how within a limited time the government deals with this complex issue in a manner. The fact that a couple of years have already passed since the last time CAS was introduced.a 57% increase when pay channel costs shot up over 500 per cent in the same period. The Worst Case Scenario. which did not exist earlier.The broadcasters will now have a system paid for by operators and subscribers that better controls their revenues and can reduce piracy ('under reporting') by over 90 per cent. and would help manage the interim shortage.Neither had many parts of the world started without regulations and exclusive operating licenses. which is fair to all. may always prescribe the technology for decoding and subscription management system for CAS. it will not survive. # The subscribers¶ monthly bills will not go down. however DTH is costlier in terms of installation costs for the subscriber and companies have to pay 10% revenue share to the government unlike CAS. They did not have the problems of low purchasing power. Conclusion And Suggestions: We would like to conclude this article by saying that the mandatory implementation of CAS is certainly going to cause an initial discomfort to each of the players in the value chain and accordingly the likelihood of this system to work voluntarily seems difficult. CAS would have come in long before a government mandate. Thus if a channel's product and rate are not in line with competition and market realities. it is by no means easy to either rationalize or satisfy the concerns of all segments.a decade to achieve one third of this level. bears testimony to this reality. Further the technology for DTH has been stipulated which would ensure the working of DTH set-top box as before in case of shifting from one city to another unlike CAS. cheaper boxes are easily hackable.The box manufacturers out here are the same top companies. Broadcasters will provide their signals on the free to air tier for a limited period against the operator/MSOs assurance to order more boxes. The DTH Angle The debate on CAS has overshadowed the introduction of direct to home television service. If cable had started like cellular phones or basic telecom.When both operators and broadcasters see that there is no roll back and yet there is a shortage of boxes. The Minister for consumer affairs Naren De also brought up this issue earlier in 2003. In the long run consumers will have to make a choice between CAS and DTH. Further there would be no need for all homes to buy a box if the free to air/basic tier gets more attractive with many more channels and perhaps some 'pay' channels may also become free. CAS brings in a market mechanism. Nearly 77 per cent of homes in leading cable markets like the US still rely on low-cost analogue technology. Findings and Suggestions: # The government should decide to manufacture Set-Top-Boxes locally rather than their imports-This issue also arose after the passing of the Cable Television Networks Amendment Bill 2002 was whether the Set Top Box (STB) should be imported to meet the immediate demand after the mandatory implementation of CAS or they should be manufactured locally. Post CAS.

The government¶s decision to allow channels to opt for variable pricing had also caused some initial uneasiness among various consumer groups. variable pricing is not illegal. as per the local demands. But from the legal standpoint. .# Variable pricing of the channels.Channels could be priced differently across cities. However the same channel should not be priced differently within a city.

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