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DTH launch to inject $400m in media sector: PEMRA officials

ISLAMABAD: The country’s media industry is poised to get a $400 million injection – the biggest ever investment in the sector – as the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) is set to auction three licences for digital satellite television services next week.

The successful launch of Direct-to-Home (DTH) services will be a game changer for Pakistan’s media industry, senior Pemra officials said in a background briefing on Thursday.

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Twelve companies are seeking to secure the three licenses Pemra will auction in open transparent bidding on November 23. The media watchdog will issue these non-exclusive licences for 15 years.

We expect $150 million direct investment by the three license holders excluding the cost of licences, said senior PEMRA officials. Minimum base price for each licence is Rs200 million. Authorities are expecting the final auction price will be significantly higher than this due to competition among the 12 contending companies. Indirect investment is estimated at $250 million.

The short-listed companies included Orient Electronics Lahore, Mag Entertainment Lahore, Skyflix Islamabad, Smartimes Communications Islamabad, Sardar Builders Islamabad, Smart Sky Islamabad, Parus Media and Broadcast Islamabad, Naya Tel Islamabad, Maestro Media Distribution Islamabad, Shahzad Sky Islamabad, HB DTH Islamabad and IQ Communications Karachi. A committee, which included members from intelligence agencies, has scrutinised these 12 contenders.

Legal Pakistani DTH services, once launched, will counter sales of illegal Indian DTH services in Pakistan, which leads to the transfer of between $200 million to $350 million to India annually on account of subscription fees, the officials said. They added that legal DTH services will give consumers a choice against the current monopoly of cable operators as well.

The prospective bidders are mostly Pakistani companies. However, Chinese, Russian and UAE investors have minority stakes in three of them. Pakistani broadcasting houses are ineligible for the bidding.

Successful launch of DTH services will minimise the discretion of government agencies in off-airing any news channel, unlike in the current analogue system where channels are penalised under one pretext or the other.

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DTH services will also make it impossible to manipulate channel ratings due to availability of real-time information, said the officials. Channels will be in a better position to negotiate with advertisers due to availability of the real-time information, according to the officials.

The licences will also be a permanent source of income for Pemra, as the licence holders will have to pay a Rs10 million annual fee in addition to paying 2% of their gross revenues to the regulator.

Successful implementation of the DTH regime would create at least 1,500 direct and 15,000 indirect jobs, said the Pemra officials. The estimated size of the DTH market is at least 20 million.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2016.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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