In 90s, when PTV was the only option to watch on TV, we used to bear clutter of advertisements during dramas and cricket matches. AD breaks happened to be long enough to prolong 35 minutes episode to stretch over 90 minutes’ duration.
Later on, cable TV freed people from PTV era and offered dozens of other channels on variety of topics. However, soon ad clutters started appearing in on cable TV as well – and became most in-expensive advertising media in Pakistan that had potential of targeting local audience. Cable TV is mostly occupied with local ads that cost not more than 5 to 10 thousand rupees for a campaign. Though, at times we saw national and multinational companies using Cable TV as their advertising mediums.
Besides, Cable TV, private channels, especially the NEWS channels in Pakistan are also heavily occupied with advertisements. By the way, Geo TV airs a 30 second ad against Rs. 100,000; other channels have their own tariffs depending on viewership, by the way, PTV is most expensive channel in terms of advertisements. So now coming back to Cable TV and their operators, who claim 100 plus channels for Rs. 150 to 400 at most per month; situation is not exactly the same when you experience the service. For instance, you may find 60 percent channels with bad sound of video quality.
Many users complain excessive down time of Cable TV, due to repair works, load shedding or similar reasons.
One thing that I want to point out is the gross violation of PEMRA act – as these Cable TV operators air Indian Movies, Dramas, Songs and other channels (operated by in-house broadcasting system) with ads. Though these Cable TV operators come under PEMRA, but I bet you won’t be able to register complain, and if you succeed there won’t be anyone to take action.
SUN TV is another story, which wirelessly covers major cities of Pakistan to offer around 100 TV Channel. Services are not up to the mark, as signals do disappear for hours. With increasing trend of LCDs and Plasmas, you may find all up-mentioned TV sources as in-efficient and of ordinary quality due to analogue signals and substandard infrastructure.
In such a situation, we may expect someone coming in with Direct to Home in near future. However, DTH has to face the challenge of traditional Cable TV due to high pricing involved in it. But, with the passage of time and thanks to its superior technology and continues innovation in content, DTH is starting to make its mark.
In our neighbouring country, India is the biggest market of DTH and it is becoming more competitive with the arrival of new entrance like Reliance Big TV and Airtel Digital TV. Now the Videocon is also waiting to launch its services in India which will make 6 DHT operators in India. Dish TV and Tata Sky are the leading DHT operators with 13 million subscribers compare to 75 million cable TV households. It is not a bad figure if we consider the prices for DTH which are from 1499 to 8899 Indian Rupee. The cost depends upon the features available.
One of the biggest benefits of DTH is interactivity in the form of games, educational tools for kids, cinema tickets and travel package booking facilities, shopping; widgets, etc.
In Pakistan we have still only cable TV which hangs in the streets like snakes and costs only 200 to 500 monthly. This fee is perhaps lowest in the world for the variety of the channels we get and the standard of services we enjoy at home. There is still some time, maybe few years, to see DTH happening in Pakistan.
By the way we know that PEMRA has PEMRA has approved the grant of two DTH licences in Pakistan, but licences will be issued on fulfilment of formalities. Market rumours suggest that Jang Group is closely eyeing its chances for DTH in Pakistan. Couple of other groups including ARY and Dhabi Group are also evaluating their options.
Before DTH, one has to be contented with PTCL smart that offers handful features like Parental Control, Playback Live TV, Electronic Programme Guides and Video on Demand. But we know that PTCL Smart is available only in posh sectors and areas of the big cities. It is clear that we have a potential of DTH in Pakistan with large number of viewers enjoying 29 inch TV, who can afford up to 2000 monthly fee.