The Conditional Access System: The Dynamics of A La Carte Pricing for Cable Television in India

Krishna Jayakar


This is a case study of the introduction of a la carte pricing for cable television in India. In 2002, a new law was passed requiring the introduction of a nationwide conditional access system (CAS) (addressable cable), but administrative problems and court challenges delayed its implementation until 2007 and limited it to some localities in the four largest cities. At a substantive level, the case supports incrementalist theories of policymaking that argue that radical policy changes mobilize opposition and fail in implementation. But at a procedural level, this paper argues that the CAS controversy catalyzed a radical change in the telecommunications policymaking process, lending support to theories such as punctuated equilibrium, which acknowledge the possibility of radical change. In conclusion, lessons for telecommunications policy-making in India and other developing countries are put forward.

Full Text: