Pakistan TV industry under threat from Indian DTH boxes

Rebecca Hawkes | 12-12-2010

Pakistan’s television sector is threatened by illegal direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV set top boxes (STBs) smuggled from India, according to former caretaker Information Minister Javed Jabber, in a report on regulating the private TV industry, commissioned by the Supreme Court.

Indian satellite TV channels are not licensed for broadcast in neighbouring Pakistan and those which are being watched illegally are diverting both viewers and advertising revenue away from Pakistan’s own TV sector, according to Mr Jabber. This, he says, ultimately results in the legitimate national TV industry being undermined, the Nation newspaper reports.

“The threat is in the form of the increased and abundant availability in markets of smuggled, illegal DTH boxes from India which give viewers access to hundreds of Indian and foreign satellite TV channels,” said Mr Jabber - while urging action against the situation.

The Supreme Court was told the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) needs prompt, credible and practical support by the police and law enforcement authorities to enforce and penalise those transgressing the law.

In his role as the apex court-appointed mediator, Mr Jabber also called for a review of new media to ensure that public interest is at the heart of the evolving media landscape in Pakistan, rather than it being government or industry led, according to The Nation.

“[A] comprehensive review and reform of the electronic media sector is required, including amendments to existing legislation to make Pemra a truly independent regulatory authority directly accountable to a bipartisan forum of Parliament, to reflect the emergence of new broadcast and distribution technologies, and to ensure that the public interest rather than only commercial or political interests determine the direction of media development in Pakistan,” said Mr Jabber.