Future of DTH in Pakistan

Direct-to-Home (DTH) is state of the art and advanced technology of receiving satellite television that has paved its way to Pakistan when PEMRA conducted the first ever auction of DTH licencing in the country on November 23. The Authority has awarded three licences to different bidders of worth PKR 14.69 billion. The discussion of awarding DTH licenses started back in 2002, and it took almost 14 years to conclude the process.

Initially 11 companies were short listed by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). The highest bidders were Shahzad Sky Pvt Limited, Star Times Pakistan Communications Limited and MAG Entertainment Private Limited. They’ll be issued DTH licenses for 15 years from PEMRA after getting clearance from law enforcement agencies. The successful bidders will submit their fee in three instalments.

The 14-hour marathon took real hype with the show of wealth starting from PKR 310 million and hovered around 1000 million in next few hours when Sardar Builder crossed PKR 1 billion mark, and from there it was no turning back until it reached to PKR 4,898 million (4.898 billion).

Mr. Absar Alam, the Chairman PEMRA, thanked all the participants and congratulated the successful bidders. He said on the occasion, “This is the biggest investment in Pakistan’s electronic media history. The current analogue distribution system is offering a maximum of 80 channels while the DTH would increase the capacity to around 120 and each local DTH license holder is expected to have at least 500,000 subscribers”.


Future of DTH in Pakistan

Chairman PEMRA claimed that DTH is the state-of-the-art technology and it is going to be a game changer for Pakistani media. It will provide wide range of choices to the customers.

DTH Service will not only end the cable operators business and dominance of illegal Indian DTH services, it will also contribute to the employment in Pakistan. Foreign channels will also be able to launch their services through a regulatory process.

Despite many obstacles, like protests from cable operators and a complete shutdown of TV transmission across the country along with Stay Order from Lahore High Court, the bidding event started by PEMRA in response to Supreme Court’s order on the PEMRA’s petition which allowed the Authority to hold the auction of DTH services; a successful event beyond expectations.

What is DTH?

Direct-to-Home (DTH) television is a method of receiving satellite television by means of signals transmitted from direct-broadcast satellites. There is no need for a separate cable connection as the DTH technology enables a company to directly air the signal to a TV set through a receiver installed inside house.

However, a dish is placed outside the home that facilitates customers receiving the signals and broadcasting the transmission onto a television set.
The high quality digital signals make watching television a pleasure.

Features like 1080i resolution, 16:9 Wide Aspect Ratio, HDD Sound and 5 Times Digital Picture Quality add to the experience of television viewing.
With Direct-to-Home service, the people will also be able to see High Definition channels and can customize the package as per their choices.

How is it different from Cable TV?

The way DTH services reaches home is dissimilar from the way cable does. In DTH, channels will be transmitted from the satellite to a small dish antenna placed on the rooftop of the home. In this way, the broadcaster directly connects to the user. The middlemen like local cable operators are not there in the picture.

It is noteworthy here that Direct-to-Home service has maximum reach as it can reach the most outback areas since it does away with the intermediate step of a cable operator and the wires that come from the cable operator to house.

How will it operate in Pakistan?

The DTH customer will receive the eligible channels from various satellites including free to-air and encrypted channels at the DTH station. For the encrypted channels, the DTH customer will make payment to the channel operator in accordance with the PEMRA prescribed tariff.

The users will be able to receive the bouquet of channels through small antennas and digital decoders on payment of subscription charges to the DTH operator.

The number of channels will be decided by PEMRA based on the study of local needs, public interest, availability of channels and their conformity with the Code of Conduct.


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