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Pakistan cable operators strike

Some 4,200 0f Pakistan’s cable operators have suspended services. The ‘strike’ started during the evening of November 21st. BBC Monitoring says the action is over the refusal of Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to postpone introducing DTH service.

The operators recently held a meeting with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar who reportedly refused to agree to their demand. On November 15th, the country’s Cable Operators Association chairman Khalid Arain had said that the launch of DTH was not justified since the cable operators have invested billions of rupees in converting the analogue cable system into the digital one. “It will also ruin their business and cause a huge economic loss.”

According to Arain, they need at least three years to create awareness among the people about cable digitalisation. The introduction of DTH will not provide us the opportunity to promote it, he claims.

On November 17th, Pemra officials had said successful launch of DTH services would be a game changer for the Pakistan’s media industry. The authority had shortlisted last week, 12 out of 16 companies for the bidding.

The licences will initially be issued for 15 years and could be extended later, according to the agreement.

The country’s media industry is poised to get a $400 million injection, the biggest ever investment in the sector as Pemra is set to auction three licences for digital satellite television services.

Unlike the analogue cable connections, DTH service is a digital platform that relays channels directly to homes from satellite through small dish antennas.

Estimates of illegal DTH users in Pakistan range from 70,000 to 2.5 million with most of them concentrated in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi.

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