ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court has restrained Pakistan Broadcasting Association from entering into any agreement that may have the effect of cartelisation or create monopoly in TV channels’ rating.

“We specifically prohibit and restrain PBA from entering into any agreement or arrangement with any other company or entity that may have the effect of cartelisation, creation of monopoly, anti-competitive behaviour, exclusion of any competitor or in any manner affecting free, fair and open competition in the Television Audience Measurement market,” the top court ruled.

The top court further directed the PEMRA to register the TV channels rating companies within one week.

“Any company which does not seek registration or is not registered without any fault or omission on its part on or before the said date shall cease its business till such time that it gets registered with PEMRA in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the afore noted Regulations,” the top court ruled.

A six-page order authored by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar in the case of channels rating further ruled that the media rating companies shall provide data and information regarding Television Audience Measurement on daily basis.

It further ruled that such information shall be made available on the website of PEMRA and may be accessed by the channels, media companies and the advertisers on payment of a notified monthly fee charge and such fee charge will be revised by PEMRA from time to time.

“The rating companies shall not be under any circumstances or for any reason provide such data and information directly to PBA, advertising agencies, media outlets or any other third party.”

Any violation of this provision shall entail immediate suspension of business of such rating company, and such other penalties are specified in the Regulations, the detailed order further ruled.

It added that on the basis of such rating, the advertisers shall be free to choose the channel(s) on which they wish to telecast their advertisements.

“In order to ensure transparency and pre-empt any possibility of conflict of interest it is directed that the designated representative of PBA on the Board of Directors of PEMRA shall not participate in the meetings in which any matter directly or indirectly incidentally relating to viewership rating or rating companies is discussed deliberated or decided.”

It further ruled that the channels who are not members of PBA shall also be rated by the rating companies.

On the application of FM Radio Channel, the top court directed Chairman PEMRA to look into the matter and decide the case in accordance with the law.

The top court also directed the PEMRA to notify and implement the Rating Service Regulations 2018 within three days.

The top court further observed that in case any of the parties feels that improvements need to be made in the draft Regulation in order to ensure free, fair and transparent competition in the provision of Television Audience Measurement Services by rating companies, it may submit its proposals in the form of representation to PEMRA.

“On receipt of such representation, PEMRA may after issuing notices to all concerned parties and hearing them pass such orders as it may consider appropriate. Any order making alteration or modification or change in the Regulations shall be justifiable by this Court.”

According to the order, the directions were issued in order to streamline the matters involving television channels, advertisers, PBA and Rating Companies.