Pemra policies criticised: Cable operators to show only 55 channels
By Amir Wasim
ISLAMABAD: Criticising the policies of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), cable operators in the country have announced that they would provide only 55 channels to the subscribers from Friday onwards as per original agreement with the authority.
The Cable Operators Association of Pakistan in a statement here on Sunday said they had been facing serious financial crisis due to the ‘wrong’ policies of Pemra and were forced to take such a drastic step.
Under the agreement, cable operators had been allowed to show 55 channels and collect Rs400 monthly fee from the consumers. However, in most of the cities, cable operators are still collecting on average Rs200 fee which they were allowed to charge for showing 20 channels some seven years back.
On the other hand, Pemra itself has issued 110 licences to local TV channels whereas the cable operators only have the system under which they can show a maximum of 80 channels. “Now we request Pemra to provide us a list of 80 channels which it wants us to relay to the consumers so that we should know which channels are to be closed down,” it said.
It seems that Pemra officials issuing licences to TV channels do not have any technical know-how about the equipment and frequencies.
Moreover, the expenditure that will incur on showing more than 55 channels will be borne by the channel owners on a monthly basis as per Pemra laws. It requested Pemra to take steps so that owners of the TV channels which would be kept off air did not harass the cable operators.
The association claimed that some 50 per cent clients had already removed cable connections whereas the remaining were paying only 50 per cent of the fee due to closure of a large number of religious, entertainment and children TV channels. On the one hand Indian movies are allowed on private channels and in cinemas and also available on CDs and DVDs and on the other the same are banned for
scable operators, it added.
Because of the wrong policies, people have now started using illegal means to watch these foreign channels through smuggled DTH systems which are easily available in the country.
The association regretted that TV channels were making money but their owners were not paying legal fees to the cable operators. Moreover, Pemra has failed to provide protection to the cable operators despite the fact that 53 per cent of its annual budget was based on the income it received from the cable operators under various heads.