ISLAMABAD: The bidding process for the Direct to Home (DTH) services has been further delayed because the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has decided to initiate “legal due diligence” for the exercise.
The legal due diligence is an investigation of a business or person prior to signing of a contract. The DTH is a digital service that provides television viewing services directly to subscribers through satellite transmission anywhere in the country.
In this service a “dish” is placed outside a house which helps in receiving the signals and broadcasting them onto a television. The signals are digital by nature and are received directly from the satellite.
A meeting held on Friday in the head office of the authority also decided that recommendations and findings formulated after due diligence would be presented at the next meeting of the Pemra board for consideration.
“The next meeting of the authority is likely in January next year,” a senior Pemra official said, adding that if the process continued smoothly then the bidding might take place in February.
Talking to Dawn on condition of anonymity, a Pemra board member said the delay was helping those active in the illegal DTH business.
“I cannot comment on the issue openly as it will give a political angle to the situation, but we must understand that there is someone who is benefiting from the delay,” the board member claimed, adding that the estimated volume of the illegal DTH business was between $2 billion and $3bn annually.
Pemra has estimated that there are around five million illegal DTH businesses operating in the country and a majority of them are Indian followed by those from Afghanistan.
A statement released by the authority said that Pemra Chairman Absar Alam had directed his legal department to conclude the matter as soon as possible in order to give potential investors confidence and to dispel wrong impression being created in this regard.
The statement quoted Mr Alam as saying that the DTH licensing process would resume after all legal aspects were looked into because any decision taken in haste could have legal complications in future.
Mr Alam decided to defer the bidding process on Dec 4 while presiding over his first Pemra meeting on the grounds that he needed reasonable time to fully understand the project, its criteria, procedure, guidelines and other important legal aspects.
Pakistan is offering three DTH licences to be made operational across the country and eight applicant companies had been shortlisted by Pemra for participation in the process.
They are Sardar Builders (Pvt) Limited, Parus Media & Broadcast (Pvt) Limited, Mastro Media Distribution (Pvt) Limited, HB DTH (Pvt) Limited, IQ Communications (Pvt) Limited, Nayatel (Pvt) Limited, Shahzad CGG (Pvt) Limited and Sharif Feed Mills (Pvt) Limited.
Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2015