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Pemra auctions 58 television licences

Updated May 04, 2019

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The highest bid for a regional language channel was worth Rs102m.
The highest bid for a regional language channel was worth Rs102m.

ISLAMABAD: Despite an impression that the media industry is facing a severe crisis, the Pakistan Elect­ronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) got a healthy response with regard to bidding for new television licences.

During the two-day bidding process that concluded on Friday, 58 licences for satellite television channels were auctioned and the highest offer received in the news and current affairs category was worth Rs283.5 million. The highest bid in the entertainment category was worth Rs50.5m.

The highest bid for a regional language channel was worth Rs102m, agriculture channel Rs52m, sports Rs42.5m, education Rs46m and health Rs42m.

Pemra had offered 70 satellite television licences in seven categories, which included eight in news and current affairs category, 27 in entertainment, five in sports, two in agriculture, 12 in regional languages, four in health and 12 in education through an advertisement dated Dec 25, 2018.

While an overwhelming response was witnessed in all the categories, many contestants in the entertainment category failed to meet the strict Pemra criteria.

There were 37 contestants in the category; however only 16 companies could qualify against the 27 slots. “Most of the companies could not meet the prescribed criteria, including paid-up capital, etc,” said a senior Pemra official. “The remaining slots will be auctioned later,” he said.

The official added: “The other categories were flooded with participants and the turnover was beyond expectation. This is the first time in the history of Pakistan’s media landscape that 58 TV channels have been auctioned at one go and at a very good price.”

A total of 237 applications were received by Pemra against the 70 slots, which showed enthusiasm in the sector. Auctioning took place in the health, sports, education and agriculture categories on Friday while the bidding for news and current affairs, entertainment and regional language categories was held on Thursday.

“The launch of new channels would not only contribute significantly in terms of investment and employment but would also offer a wide variety of content to the masses,” the official added.

The successful bidders will now be required to depo­sit the remaining amounts of earnest money of their offered bids within 15 working days.

Meanwhile, Pemra also responded to the objection raised by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and said the bidding would help introduce various digital distribution mediums such as internet protocol television, digital cable and DTH which have the capacity to carry more than 250 channels.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2019