Fifteen hours of Pakistan auction bidding for DTH licences closed in the early hours of November 24th with all three licences being sold.
A total of 11 companies – Orient Electronics Lahore, Mag Entertainment Lahore, Skyflix Islamabad, Smartimes Communications Islamabad, Sardar Builders Islamabad, Smart Sky Islamabad, Parus Media and Broadcast Islamabad, NayaTel Islamabad, Shahzad Sky, Islamabad, HB DTH Islamabad and IQ Communications Karachi – took part in the bidding process to secure the three licences, says a report from BBC Monitoring.
The highest bid was raised by Mag Entertainment (€44m) followed by M/s. Shahzad Sky and Star Time.
“All the three licences were sold for Rs 14.69 billion (€132m),” informed Chairman PEMRA Absar Alam, while speaking to the press.
“To date, this is the biggest investment in Pakistan’s electronic media history,” Alam said, adding that estimates and feasibility studies carried out by PEMRA suggested the overall investment would be $450 million ($150 million each) and could touch $750 million more in the next two years. These estimates did not include the bidding proceeds, he made it clear.
“The current analogue distribution system is offering a maximum of 80 channels while the DTH would increase the capacity to around 120 and each local DTH licence holder is expected to have at least 500,000 subscribers,” said the PEMRA chairman.
Pakistani DTH services, once launched, will counter the sale of illegal Indian DTH services in Pakistan, which incur a heavy loss to the national exchequer because of transfer of between $200 million to $350 million to India annually on account of subscription fee. Now the legal DTH services will give consumers a choice against the current monopoly of cable operators as well.
Foreign channels will get landing rights to come under the local regime through a regulatory process and launching of new local satellite channels will be allowed. The DTH licence holders will have to start operations within the year or risk termination of licences. The bidders are required to deposit 15 per cent of the bid money at the outset of the bidding as earnest money, followed by 50 per cent of the bid money upfront. The remaining amount could be paid immediately or in three yearly instalments at a mark-up rate.