LHC stays DTH licence bidding process
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court stayed on Tuesday the DTH (direct-to-home) licence bidding process by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority till a decision on petitions challenging Pemra rules for grant of licences.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ayesha A. Malik and comprising Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and Justice Shahid Karim issued the order suspending the DTH licence bidding process scheduled for Wednesday (today).
The stay order was issued on identical applications filed by the Independent Newspaper Corporation and others.
The bench had already heard the main case against Pemra rules on DTH service licences and reserved its judgement.
Some media houses had challenged the rules terming them discriminatory. They accused Pemra of not allowing local broadcasters to participate in the bidding process.
Pemra had opposed the petitions, arguing that a broadcaster could not be a distributer of his own content. It would be a conflict of interests if a broadcaster was awarded the distribution licence, the authority added.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the counsel for the applicants requested the high court to stay the bidding process until a judgement on the main petitions was announced.
Pemra’s counsel Salman Akram Raja argued that no right of the applicants (media houses) had been infringed and requested the bench to dismiss the applications.
But the bench observed that since important questions of law and valuable rights were involved in the case, the tender could not be opened at this stage. “Therefore, the respondents are directed to wait until the judgement is announced and in the meanwhile they are restrained from opening the bids and finalising the tender of DTH licence,” the bench said in its order.
Strike called off
The Cable Operators Association on Tuesday called off its countrywide strike following ‘successful’ talks with Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb and the Pakistan Broadcasters Association.
The association’s president Khalid Arain told journalists that the government had assured them that their concern over the issue of DTH licences auction would be addressed.
The protesting cable operators had been demanding that introduction of the DTH service in the country be postponed for at least five years.