ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and Pakistan Cable Operators Association have signed an agreement for digitalizing the cable network in all major cities of the country by September 30 this year.
Addressing a joint press conference at the Pemra Headquarters yesterday along with office-bearers of Cable Operators Association including Chairman Khalid Arain and Central President Malik Furqan Ghiyas, Chairman PEMRA Absar Alam said that 11 cities including Karachi, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Hyderabad, Sukher, Multan and Hassanabdal will be digitalized till May 30 in the first phase.
He said in this phase over 60 per cent of the cable network would be digitalized while the rest of the network would be digitalized in the second phase. He said that all over the world analogue cable system had been closed since December 31, 2015 and Pakistan as signatory of the convention was bound to convert to digitalization.
He said that the PEMRA had taken some steps to resolve problems of the cable operators and help desks had been set up at major cities where dedicated staff would provide assistance to the applicants and cameras had been connected with the head office to eliminate the chances of corruption.
He said that PEMRA Act, its regulations and forms had been translated into Urdu and the forms were available online so that people in far-flung areas could understand them easily.
Absar Alam said that persistent demand of cable operators had been accepted and to declare it as an industry PEMRA would write to the government for its formal approval.
He said that PEMRA rules were being violated by various stakeholders and a policy was being finalized to take across the board actions against all violators without any fear or favour.
He said that for the implementation of electronic media code of conduct, consultations were being held with all stakeholders as it also involved issue of freedom of expressing under Article 19 of the Constitution.
He said as chairman PEMRA, he would not like to implement the code by stick but with mutual understanding. If the media houses implement the code themselves, the PEMRA might become irrelevant in the process but if they continued to violate rules, then a strict action might be taken as the last resort.
Absar Alam said that PEMRA plan to launch Direct to Home (DTH) system in the country had not been scrapped but only delayed to make it more transparent.
Office bearers of the cable operators association said that tax holiday would be given which would ultimately benefit the consumers.
They said that digitalization of the system would also allow the cable operators to add new channels as presently on 80 channels could be accommodated. They appreciated the efforts and stance of new Chairman PEMRA for digitalization of cable network.