Cable operators' strike fails to make waves -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Cable operators’ strike fails to make waves

KARACHI, August 26: A tit for tat move by the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan (CAP) on August 25, to stop broadcasting Pakistan based channels on their networks, failed to create any impact, since a large number of cable operators did not tow the line of CAP and continued with their broadcasts.

The CAP had planned to stop showing based channels, in retaliation to the Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) decision to ban broad-cast of India based channels on cable networks.

Cable operators are waiting for the government to invite them to talks for resolving this matter, but it seems that the Ministry of Information and Broadcast is content with newspaper statements and its officials do not plan to bow before any pressure from cable operators.

On August 24, Sunday, a holiday, all major areas of the city received regular channels (minus Indian channels) on cable networks, with the exception of the few areas in Defence, Saddar and Federal B Area.

Though Sports fans were a bit on their nerves, anticipating channel blackout during the Pakistan Vs India Hockey match in the afternoon.

All the major cities of the Punjab province continued to receive regular channels, according to sources, who claim minimal impact of the strike in Lahore.

Vice Chairman of CAP, Tahir Ali Khan, commenting over the impact of the strike said, “We will continue to stop showing Pakistan based channels until August 31, as decided by our organisation. We are planning to bring into the net those hesitant operators who are afraid to join our move.”

The timing of the strike by some is considered not good. Cable operators on average pay a licence fee of Rs25, 000 per year to PEMRA. The annual collection results in nearly Rs25 million. Cable operators have made the payment of renewal fees for the period July 2003 to July 2004. Therefore, some operators think that PEMRA will be interested in listening to their grievance not now, but in June, the next year.

Some cable operators say, “It is not our responsibility if people do not want to view Pakistan based channels and the advertisers are also spending on advertisements to foreign channels. Why does the government stop advertisers to place ads on foreign channels?”

There is not much choice left with the viewers, say some ob-servers. “Digital satellite dish receiving systems, though available at affordable rates, do not offer a wide variety of choice, because all the popular channels require ‘payment’.

At present, a pre-paid card for viewing most of the Indian channels and some popular English ones costs Rsl8, 000 for a six-month period.

As the tussle between PEMRA and CAP goes on, and it is expected that it will carry on for a long time, the viewers will sit idle watching ghosts on television screens.

Source: The News