Pakistan’s PEMRA media regulator has auctioned 70 new licenses for satellite DTH channels.
PEMRA says it had offered capacity for 70 satellite TV licenses in seven categories – eight in News & Current Affairs, 27 in Entertainment, five in Sports, two in Agriculture, 12 in Regional Languages, four in Health and 12 in Education genres.
Some 187 companies entered the bidding. Some 35 were shortlisted, and 21 actually participated in the process.
The auction was carried out on May 2nd – 3rd, and successful bidders must deposit their sums within 15 days.
The News & Current Affairs category channel brought the highest bid of Rs283.5 million ($2m), whereas the Entertainment category went for (Pakistani Rupees)50.5 million ($360,000). The highest bid for regional languages channels offered was Rs102 million ($72,000), Agriculture for Rs52 million, Sports for Rs42.5 million, Education for Rs46 million and Health for Rs42 million bid.
Currently there were 88 satellite TV channels officially operational in Pakistan while 33 were given landing rights, and there are 227 FM radio stations also active in the country.
However, the auction process has not been with controversy. The Pakistan Broadcasters Association has complained and is threatening to appeal to the prime minster to stop the process. Their letter of complaint states: “The present cable network in Pakistan is based on the analogue system, which has a capacity to carry a maximum of 80 channels at a given time. But since PEMRA has already issued 121 licences for satellite TV broadcast stations, at least 40 channels cannot be aired,” it read.
“Therefore, issuance of more licences will put a large number of channels off the air, resulting in irrecoverable losses to the media industry at a time when it is already suffering due to the economic slowdown,” the press release stated.