Senate body to take up Pemra’s move to regulate web TV

Updated Feb 04 2020

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The meeting will be chaired by PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar.  — Online/File
The meeting will be chaired by PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar. — Online/File

ISLAMABAD: Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights will take up the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) move to regulate web TV and over the top (OTT) content services in its next meeting on Feb 10.

According to the agenda issued on Monday, the Pemra chairman will brief the committee on regulating web TV and OTT content and that whether or not it violates Article 19 of the Constitution, which ensures freedom of speech.

The meeting will be chaired by PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar.

Pemra had floated a proposal on its website on Jan 8 that it wanted to regulate the web TV and OTT content services, which are offered by different websites and people can access and download content by paying for it.

Four organisations i.e. Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development, Digital Rights Foundation, Bolo Bhi and Freedom Network analysed the proposal and reached to a conclusion that the idea behind the proposal was to gag the independent voices. As many as 19 organisations and 36 prominent personalities have rejected the proposal.

Moreover, in the proposal it was stated that Pemra will charge Rs5 million as licence fee for entertainment channel and Rs10 million for current affairs.

However, General Manager (Media & PR) Pemra Mohammad Tahir, in a written statement, said there was no intention to curtail the freedom of speech.

“The objective of the consultation on regulating web TV and OTT content services is that the extensive growth of the web TV and OTT market and the excessive disruption of these services to traditional broadcast services have made regulators vigilant all over the world. Moreover, the broadcasters /TV operators and other traditional service providers are losing their market share to online web TV and content providers,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2020