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DTH

Pak court directs PEMRA to allow broadcasters to participate in DTH auction

MUMBAI: Media laws in Pakistan on the direct-to-home (DTH) front are going to be more liberal than their counterparts in India, thanks to a court order.

The Lahore High Court has declared the recently held DTH auction null and void as it had disallowed broadcasters from bidding.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory AuthorityAs per the court order, broadcasters will be allowed to participate in the DTH bidding process. In India, there is a clear broadcast sector cap on DTH. As per this regulation, broadcasters can’t own more than 20% equity in a DTH company in India.

The Lahore High Court has struck down the eligibility rules set by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) for DTH licensing. It has directed PEMRA to restart the entire DTH bidding process, including inviting new applications.

Thus, broadcasters like Geo and ARY can now participate in DTH bidding. PEMRA, however, can challenge the order in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Feeling that it would be a conflict of interests, PEMRA had restricted media broadcasters from getting into distribution services and barred broadcasters from getting DTH licences. However, the court said that the restriction was based on a presumption that any vertical integration between broadcast media and distribution services would result in undue concentration of ownership.

The DTH auction, which took place on 23 November 2016, was delayed several times as it was originally slated for December 2015. The Pak Supreme Court had allowed the auction on conditional basis since the Lahore High Court was hearing the case.

Three companies—including a Chinese firm—had won the DTH licence for 15 years against a fee of Rs 4.898 billion per licence.