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Three Direct-to-Home Satellite Transmission Licenses Auctioned for Rs 4.9bn Each

by Umair Rasheed

Mag Entertainment of Lahore, and Shahzad Sky and Startimes of Islamabad win bid-war that lasted for 15 hours.

Three licenses for a first-of-its-kind Direct-to-Home (DTH) satellite transmission service in the country have been auctioned for Rs 4,898 million each in a bidding that ended early morning on Thursday, lasting for 15 hours at a stretch.

Mag Media of Lahore and Shahzad Sky and Startimes of Islamabad were the winners. The licenses will allow them to run DTH satellite transmission for an initial period of 15 years. The companies will be eligible for renewal of licenses at the end of the initial period.

The bidding had started on Wednesday after the Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned a restraining order issued by the Lahore High Court (LHC) barring the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) from auctioning the licenses till a verdict was reached in multiple petitions against PEMRA rules governing the auction.

The petitioners, including the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), had challenged the rule under which broadcasters were barred from participating in the bidding.

Read more: PEMRA Set to Introduce Digital Cable Services in Pakistan

Meanwhile, the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan (CAP) had ended a country-wide strike against the auction in the wake of the LHC restraining order. In his statements to the media during the strike, CAP chairman Khalid Arain had demanded that the government delay the auction for five years. He said that cable operators had just invested billions of rupees in converting their infrastructure from analog to digital, and the investment will be wasted if the PEMRA proceeded with the launch of the DTH service immediately.

The PEMRA had dismissed opposition to the auction of licences. Its spokesperson had said that if broadcasters were allowed to participate in the auction for the licenses it could lead to a conflict of interest situation. Regarding cable operators’ demand for a delay, he had said that only the licenses were being issued for now. “The DTH service would not be launched in the country before November 2017,” he said.

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