ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) received on Thursday a hefty bid of Rs283.5 million for a new TV channel amid objections by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA).

Al Kamal Media Private Company placed the highest bid of Rs283.5m on the first day of auction inaugurated by Pemra Chairman Saleem Baig who expressed the confidence that the new TV channel would provide livelihood to a large number of people, apart from creating a healthy competition in the mini-screen sector.

As many as 21 companies participated in the open-bid round for auction of eight licences for news and current affairs TV channels. Fourteen of the 35 companies pre-qualified for the auction did not take part in the auction process.

The auction will continue until Friday (today) during which licences will be offered in seven categories — news, current affairs, education, sports, health, entertainment and agriculture. Represent­atives of 187 companies are participating in the auction.

According to the details, licences for eight new channels are being offered in news category, 27 in entertainment, 12 in regional languages, 12 in education, five in sports, four in health and two in agriculture category. The Pemra chairman said that currently 88 local TV channels and 227 radio channels were being operated in the country, adding that eight Internet Protocol TV licences had been issued and one DTH (direct-to-home) was expected to be operational soon.

The base price for news and current affairs TV licence has been fixed at Rs63.5m, entertainment TV channel licence at Rs48.5m and regional language TV licence at Rs10m.

The successful bidder will have to submit 15 per cent of the bidding price on the auction day.

Meanwhile, the PBA has objected to new auctions and conveyed its grievances to Pemra. The association has appealed to the prime minister to intervene and stop the process.

The PBA said in a press release that the association had filed a petition in the Sindh High Court, contending that the present cable network in the country was based on the analogue system which had the capacity to carry a maximum of 80 channels at a given time, while Pemra had already issued 121 licences for satellite TV channels and as a result 40 channels could not be aired.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2019