Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has started a crackdown against the unlawful provision of almost 2.5 million Indian Direct-to-Home (DTH) services in the country’s main cities ahead of its plans to grant official DTH licences to investors.
PEMRA Starts Crackdown Against Unlawful Indian DTH Services
“Already around 3,000 DTH equipments have been seized in Lahore and Islamabad but the major illegal connections are in Karachi.”
Fakharuddin Mughal, a spokesperson of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) said.
The crackdown comes as PEMRA is preparing to grant official DTH licences to Pakistani investors next month.
“This illegal business is worth around $150 million (roughly Rs. 998 crores) annually.Approximately this amount is earned by Indian DTH services and their agents in Pakistan annually from our market.”
“The money was moved illegally from Pakistan to Dubai as license and subscription fees by the agents/operators in the country who illegally market and sell Indian DTH services like Tata Sky, Sun Direct, Reliance, Videocon, Dish TV etc.”
PEMRA’s Director General Licensing Wakeel Khan said.
“According to a rough estimate there are around one million to 2.5 million users of illegal Indian DTH services in Pakistan most of them concentrated in the big cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.”
The diffusion of Indian DTH services is said to increase since cable operators also depend on DTH’s to show channels like Star Sports, Star Movies and National Geographic, which have not yet received the nod from PEMRA.
DTH services range from Rs 1200 to Rs 1800 per month. The unlawful Direct-to-Home service has become widespread in Pakistan according to analysts since they display good quality digital content and normally have a range of 300 to 400 channels to choose most of them in Hindi-language content. Wakeel said that PEMRA had also requested the aid of Customs Intelligence, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other agencies to limit this illegal business as it was hard to track down the equipment to private homes.
“We can target cable operators and the agents but it is difficult to go to every home. That’s where (Pakistan) Customs intelligence, FIA and other agencies have a role to play.”
PEMRA has planned to auction three DTH licenses on December 7 for which 10 investors have submitted their documents. It currently has given landing rights to merely 19 foreign channels while they are almost 86 Pakistani satellite channels working in the country.