Pakistan Television code of ethics to be strictly applied on cable
ISLAMABAD- All license holders of cable television networks in the country will have to observe the same code of ethics as prevailing on the Pakistan Television.
This was stated by a spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
Spokesman said so far, the PTA has issued 800 licenses to cable TV operators throughout Pakistan. Under the terms and conditions of these license, the cable operators must abide by the prescribed rules and regulation while transmitting their programmes. Under the agreement, it is binding on the Cable TV operators to honour the code of ethics as its violation would make them liable to fines besides, other punishments under the Telecom Act.
The PTA, the spokesman said, is cognizant of the fact that some Cable TV operators are indulging in objectionable activities and they would be dealt with severity. Those found guilty would be punished under the Telecom Act, 1996, which includes heavy fines, punishment and cancellation of the license as well.
He said the people should support the PTA in order to eliminate such elements in Cable TV industry and to put this new industry in accordance with the social, religious cultural and traditional values of Pakistan.
The Cable TV system, the spokesman said entails transmission of television programmes through Cable TV distribution. The media can be used for entertainment as well as for dissemination of knowledge. Multifarious objectives like promotion of education, healthy entertainment, consensus on national issues etc. can be achieved through its use, he added.
The spokesman said the Cable TV operation had been going on for the last so many years in the country without any code of conduct and regulations. In 1999, the PTA received reports that about 3,000 individuals or companies in Karachi and Lahore were providing Cable TV service without permission, he added.
About 25,000 to 40,000 households alone in the metropolitan area of Karachi were enjoying this service. Besides, engaging in Cable TV business property, such operations were also transgressing upon intellectual property and copyright laws as wall as censorship code, said the spokesman.
He said they were charging about Rs 3,000 initially and Rs 250 to Rs 300 per month from each subscriber. Thus they were depriving the national exchequer of valuable tax and license fee. Under the Act, the PTA is empowered to grant licenses for telecommunication services including Cable TV, he added.
The PTA visualised that there was a growing market demand for the Cable TV and the Cable networks and the licensed Cable TV operators in future could be used for data services as well as voice telephony after expiry of PTCL monopoly on December 31, 2002, the spokesman said.
He said it was also thought that an orderly growth of this industry would create jobs and revenue for the government. Keeping in view the above facts, the PTA after getting approval by the government invited applications for the grant of licenses. The license conditions framed by the PTA are both consumer and the operator-friendly, the spokesman added.
The licence conditions provide that connection fee will be Rs 2,000 and the monthly fee Rs 200. The cable operator will provide PTV channels and one Islamic and one Quranic channel which is compulsory, he said.
The spokesman said it will protect intellectual property and copyright. Licensees will not interrupt service to the subscribers abruptly. The cable will be laid and the quality of services will be according to ITU-IEC standards. The cable operators are required to seek permission from city authorities to lay the cable. In doing so they will preserve the natural environment and ensure that no tree is cut in any case. The cable operators will respect religious, social, cultural and traditional values. The licensee will show sensitivity and respect to all ethnic groups and minorities. They will give full regard to innocence, inexperience and credulity of children. Cable operator will not allow any pornographic content or locally originated programmes and maintain a register of channels being shown, he added.
Keeping in view the high volume of applications and convenience of applicants, apart from headquarters, the licenses are also being issued by regional offices at Lahore and Karachi. For convenience, a regional office has also been recently established in Peshawar. These offices are also responsible to receive consumer complaints and act on them expeditiously, said the spokesman.
The spokesman said the PTA also evolved a monitoring system for the Cable TV operation and constituted central and regional monitoring committees. These committees consist of eminent figures from all walks of life including retired judges, educationist, journalists and professionals.
Source: Business Recorder