PTA fails to keep tabs on cable operators
KARACHI- The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has failed to keep tabs on those cable operators who have been showing those Indian channels and movies on which the government put a ban late last year.
Well-placed sources said that while the telecoms regulator had taken punitive action against some cable operators for showing the outlawed Indian channels, most cable operators were showing those channels and Indian movies without let or hindrance.
Following the escalation of tension between Indian and Pakistan in the wake of the December attack on the Indian parliament, New Delhi sought to ban Pakistan Television in India. As a consequence, Islamabad outlawed all Indian TV channels beamed through satellite in Pakistan as well as beamed by Star Satellite Channels on the plea that they were propagating injurious material against the security of Pakistan, thus violating the conditions of the licence issued by the PTA to cable TV operators.
Afterwards, the PTA lifted the ban on five channels of the STAR TV channel package. The channels from which the ban was lifted were ESPN, Star Sports, National Geographic, Fox News and Sky News.
The sources added that the PTA learnt about the violation of the restriction only through subscribers who took umbrage over the showing of the banned Indian channels.
“There are three reasons why most subscribers are reluctant to complain against those cable operators who show the outlawed Indian channels. First, most subscribers already take the malicious propaganda campaign of Indian channels against Pakistan with a pinch of salt. Second, they enjoy Indian programmes and do not want to miss out on them. Third, the quality of PTV programmes has gone down over the years.”
They said that another reason which was responsible for the showing of the outlawed Indian channels was that there was a rift between the cable operators. “The All Pakistan Cable Operators Association (APCOA) is not representative of all cable operators in the city. There are some breakaway groups which do not follow the guidelines laid down by the APCOA.”
The APCOA chairman, Hasan Mustafa, said, “out of 900 cable operators in the country, at least 650 are registered with the APCOA”. He claimed that those cable operators who were registered with the APCOA were not showing the outlawed Indian channels.
They added that apart from those cable operators who did not follow the PTA decision, there were a large number of cable operators who were not registered with the telecommunications regulator and under no obligation to stop beaming the banned Indian channels.
Cable operators, however, said that since the Inspector General (IG) announced that the police would watch cable operators showing Indian channels, police had started getting more bribes.