Cable operators go on strike against DTH service

PEMRA bans 11 ‘illegal’ Christian TV channels

Observer Report

Islamabad—Cable operators have suspended their service in different areas of the country after unsuccessful dialogue with the government on the issue of Direct-To-Home (DTH) service.
Cable operators announced to indefinitely suspend cable transmission after talks with Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar proved abortive.
The cable feed has started shutting down in several parts of the country.
All Pakistan Cable Operators Association and Cable Operators Federation of Pakistan had on November 15 postponed strike call till talks with the government against PEMRA’s decision to issue DTH service licences to only three companies.
In a notification issued by cable operators, they have announced to suspend cable transmission until auction of DTH is cancelled.
They have issued directive to all the cable operators to ensure closure of transmission. The cable operators said they were against auction of DTH going to take place on November 23.
“Auctioning of DTH is equal to economical murder of hundreds and thousands of cable operators,” they said.
“PEMRA had made cable operators spend millions of rupees on digitization of cable TV and even the first phase of digitization was not complete and they had announced to auction DTS,” they said.
The cable operators demanded from the government to put off auction of DTH for at least two years. They said the cable operators had all the right to protest by suspending transmissions if their demands were not met.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority has blocked 11 Christian TV channels being run across the country ‘illegally’. The move came after a raid conducted by PEMRA officials against cable operators who were violating the given rules.
The channels which have been blocked are Isaac TV, Gawahi TV, God Bless TV, Barkat TV, Praise TV, Zindagi TV, Shine TV, Jesus TV (Jessi TV), Healing TV, Khushkhabari TV, and Catholic TV, sources said. All the channels relayed religious programmes for Christians living in the country. “These TV channels are banned in line with ongoing Pemra campaign to ban illegal channels,” Sheikh Tahir, the regulator’s general manager media, told media. He said the blocked TV channels did not have licences to continue their transmissions.
In response to a question that why only Christian TV channels were banned, Tahir said there was no segregation in the name of religion. “There are many other Indian channels which are banned and there is no special campaign against minorities,” he added.
Meanwhile, a notification issued by DG PEMRA Muhammad Farooq directed all regional managers to take necessary measures to stop “transmission/relaying of the above mentioned 11 illegal TV channels from cable TV networks” in the respective regions immediately.

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