Pemra goes too far in awarding FM radio licences -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pemra goes too far in awarding FM radio licences

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has allowed three local FM radio stations to enter Karachi, Multan and Islamabad without any bidding process.

According to details, Zena Satellite Communications that is operating a community radio station in District Thatta has been given permission to launch an FM radio station in Karachi under political pressure.

The company has been given a relief of Rs360 million. The authority put off all the legal process of bidding and gave radio licence for Karachi to Zena Satellite Communications for Rs11 millions according to the bidding of 2004.

Similarly, another company “Airways”, which was operating a radio station in Muzaffargarh, has been given permission to start FM radio station in Multan without bidding, thus giving a benefit Rs150 million to the company. Instead, the company was ordered to pay just Rs1.67 million.

The third decision also has the same nature regarding the permission to Biz Broadcasting (Pvt). The company has a radio station in Tehsil Hasan Abdal and can now operate the same radio station in the capital city (Islamabad) as well.

Pemra has asked the company to pay only Rs2.5 million according to the bidding process of 2004. This decision has benefited the company about Rs140 million.

Over Rs650 million has been let off under the permission to these companies. It is worth mentioning here that under phase 6 in 2008, Pemra has held open auction in 54 cities including Karachi and Multan.

In the bidding, Rs370 million were offered for Karachi, Rs160 million for Multan for issuance of licence in the cities for FM radio stations. Chairman Pemra Mushtaq Malik while talking to The News regarding the issuance of licences to these companies in Karachi, Multan and Islamabad, clarified that these decisions were taken to promote investment in the country.

He stated that the decision would pave the way for the provision of jobs to educated youth. He was of the view that small investors could get the licence in the small cities however could not get success due to in experience staff.

With the permission in big cities, these companies will be able to establish themselves in new environment.

Sources close to the companies running FM radio stations termed the Pemra decision unjust. They said Pemra should not have granted permission to the three companies to run their radio stations from cities without payment of the full amount of the last bidding. They said they would go to court against the Pemra decision.

A source in Pemra told this scribe that political pressure from the above was behind the decision to accommodate these three companies running FM radios. However, a high official of Pemra rejected that the decision was taken under any press.

Source: The News

Date:1/13/2009