PEMRA denies news story about DTH Licensing process
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Monday issued rebuttal of a story published by a section of the press headlined ‘Why is acting chairman PEMRA in such a hurry.’
A press release of PEMRA said the DTH Licensing process is being carried out in a fair and transparent manner under a lawful authority which is duly endorsed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The story was published without going into merits of the whole issue and without even taking PEMRA’s point of view. All process of DTH has been carried out under lawful authority and in a very transparent manner.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) believes in transparency, openness, fairness and ensuring availability of level playing field to all its stakeholders.
As per details, PEMRA had called Expression of Interests (EoIs) for grant of two DTH Licenses through competitive bidding on May 17, 2003. M/s Cross Currents (Pvt.) Limited, a sister concern of Geo Group and M/s ARY Communication (Pvt.) Limited were decided to
be successful bidders with offered licence fee of Rs 250 million.
The companies were requested time and again to deposit the license fee however they failed to do so. Even the Authority, while acceding to their requests split the total amount of licensee fee into eight equal installments.
However, the companies did not honor the decision and post dated cheques submitted by them were bounced back. Consequently, the Authority in its 47th meeting held on February 28, 2008 decided not to further process their cases and return the amount deposited by
both of the companies after deduction of earnest money.
Both of the applicant companies, challenged the decision of the Authority with Sindh High Court. However, the petitions filed by the companies were dismissed in favour of PEMRA in March, 2013 after a long legal battle of about five years.
Pakistan was among the first countries to envisage the technological advancement and launch the Direct to Home (DTH) service in region thirteen year ago, however, due to some of the reasons mentioned above, the process was delayed.
India being the closest neighboring country encashing the opportunity, launched its DTH services in 2006 and captured a reasonable grey market with an estimate of 2 to 3 million illegal Indian DTH subscribers in Pakistan. Thus causing, according to some estimates $ 150 -200 millions annual loss to the national exchequer.
It is also reported that some Pakistani Satellite TV channels are available on this illegal platform and enjoying untaxable earnings on account of subscription.
PEMRA is very enthusiastic to provide a legal platform to general public and curb the menace of illegal Indian DTH.
The Authority in this regard hired the consultancy services of a Switzerland based International Consultant M/s Digital Strategy Pte. Limited, by floating Request for Proposals (RFP) through national dailies on 30-10-2014 through an open and transparent
The consultant was required to submit his report comprising overview of the electronic media business market, suggesting number of DTH licenses to be awarded, bidding / auctioning procedure, license terms and conditions etc. within 105 days after signing the
contract on 24-03-2015.
As per terms and conditions of the contract, the consultant submitted his Final Report to the Authority in its 105th meeting held on August 11, 2015. The Authority approved the PEMRA
Eligibility Criteria & Bidding / Auctioning Procedure for Direct to Home (DTH) Distribution Service Licensing Regulations-2015 for DTH Licensing.
The number of licenses and the base price is proposed by the consultant after in depth study of international and regional markets. The base price of the license will provide a starting point of auctioning however, the actual price of the licenses will be determined by the applicant companies.
While approving the recommendations of the consultant, the Authority decided to initiate the licensing process for Direct to Home (DTH) service.
Accordingly, eligibility criteria and bidding / auctioning procedure for award of licenses was notified in the form of Gazette (SRO 1390 (2015) / Ex.Gaz) on September 8, 2015.
An advertisement inviting applications for award of DTH Licenses was published in newspapers on September 10, 2015 while the Information Memorandum (IM) containing eligibility criteria, License Terms and condition, application forms etc. was uploaded on PEMRA website.
All the prospective applicants were free to ask queries regarding the DTH licensing process. The queries were answered on daily basis and uploaded on PEMRA website which are still available.
Achieving a milestone to the DTH Licensing Project, a Pre-Bid conference was held on October 9, 2015 at PEMRA HQs, Islamabad.
Which was the final opportunity for the prospective applicants to clarify their queries.
Twenty Five National & International prospective applicant companies participated in the Pre-Bid conference. The Participants appreciated PEMRA’s efforts and steps taken so far for
introducing Direct to Home (DTH) Digital Satellite Distribution Service in Pakistan which was awaited since long.
It was highlighted by PEMRA as well as by the potential applicants that there are hundreds of thousands of illegal Indian DTH subscribers in Pakistan, causing hundreds of millions of dollars of annual loss to the national exchequer, ironically, the delay in launch of Pakistani DTH services is helping this illegal market to flourish.
PEMRA is taking serious actions against companies and platforms involved in this illegal business activity and the licensing of Pakistani DTH is step towards achievement of the goal.
It is expected that successful launch of DTH services in Pakistan will result in investment about $ 150 Million, about 12000 direct jobs will be created and a handsome amount of revenue will be generated for the regulator and the Federal Government.
The last date for submission of applicants for DTH licenses was November 6, 2015 and 10 applications have been received in this regard. The bidding / auctioning for grant of DTH licenses is scheduled to be held on December 7, 2015.
M/s Cross Current (Pvt.) Limited & M/s ARY Communication (Pvt.) Limited filed an appeal against decision of Sindh High Court with Supreme Court and later filed a Stay Application with plea that the instant Licensing regime for DTH initiated by PEMRA is unlawful
as the Authority is working without permanent Chairman.
However, the Supreme Court while passing a short order with regard to subject C.M.A No. 5482/2015, reproduced as under:
“No case for stay is made out. Dismissed accordingly. However, any award granted shall be subject to final decision of the case.”
Thus allowing the Authority to continue its DTH licensing process. The Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage (MoIB&NH) had advised PEMRA to withhold DTH Licensing Process till the Permanent Chairman assumes the charge.
However, in response, the Ministry has been informed about progress of the Licensing Process which is at its final stage and the Legal complications which may arise due to withholding of the process.Moreover, the decision to initiate the Licensing process for
DTH was made by the Authority not by the Acting Chairman / Executive Member. The Licensing process is underway as per the timeline approved by the Authority.
M/s Independent Media Corporation (Pvt.) Limited “Geo Group” has filed another Writ Petition with Islamabad High Court with a prayer to stop the aforementioned DTH licensing process which is not yet decided.