Pakistan's cable TV operators end strike

 MUMBAI: Cable operators have agreed to abide by the rules and regulations of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) regarding re-broadcasting of channels without 'lending rights'.

A spokesman for Pemra said the authority had returned the equipment of the cable operators confiscated for showing the channels, which had not been granted 'lending rights' by Pemra.

The cable operators pledged to support Pemra to enforce regulatory regime and they called off their strike in Islamabad on 24th December and resumed their cable service operation. .The spokesman said the satellite channel required registration under rules for getting 'lending rights'.

The spokesman said 35 channels had no 'lending rights' from Pemra including AXN, National Geographic, Reality, Set Max, Sony, Sahara One, Balle Balle, Etc, Channel One, Now, MM, MM2, M NET, Series, Action, Super Sports 1, Super Sports 2, Super Sports 3, Super Sports 4, Super Sports 5, Super Sports 6, Fashion TV International, Zee TV, Zee Cinema, Zee Music, Zee Sports, Zee News, Zee Smile, STAR Ustav, STAR Care, STAR Gold, BHU Movies, BHU Music and E-Entertainment.

On 23 December, Pemra had ordered Pakistan's cable TV operators to stop airing 35 channels over 'piracy issues' and threatened a complete shutdown of the service from this week, a media report said .

"It (the closure of 35 channels) is a regulatory action to force cable TV operators to air only legitimately subscribed channels and stop showing those banned by the government," said Pemra spokesman Muhammad Saleem. "We have received complaints from these channels and have been urging these operators not to indulge in piracy and show only those channels which they subscribe to."

The cable industry in Pakistan was legalised in 2000 during the military rule of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Pakistan Television (PTV) had total monopoly in the television industry till private channels, run from outside but catering to Pakistani audiences, began surfacing in mid-2002.

There has been a tremendous growth in cable TV operators in the country over the last two years and besides nearly 1,000 registered with the association, there are countless others operating illegally.

For commercial and political reasons, Pakistan banned some Indian channels in 1999 as the government at that time believed they were hurting the country's interests.

While they were believed to be indulging in propaganda against the country, these channels were also eating away a major chunk of advertising revenue as people had switched over to more entertaining Indian channels.

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