PEMRA Starts Crackdown Against Indian DTH Services in Pakistan

Pakistan Electronic Media Registration Authority (PEMRA) has started to confiscate the illegal Indian DTH equipment being sold throughout the country. The media authority has started a crackdown against all illegal DTH activities that continue to be managed under the radar.

The State of DTH Services Running in Pakistan

Indian DTH services like Dish TV, Reliance Sundirect, SDN, Tata Sky and Videocon are being sold in major cities throughout the country via local agents. During the past few years, these Indian DTH service providers have seen great proliferation despite tense ties between Pakistan and India. The reason of their success is due to demand for high-quality digital media, something that the Pakistani market has lacked due to delays in DTH license auctioning for more than a decade.

These illegal DTH service providers provide a choice of around 400 high-quality channels including quite a few High-Definition (HD) channels. These channels are being broadcasted from India, but unlike cable media, the quality of these DTH services does not degrade even at the end of the bandwidth spectrum, due to the digital nature of the platform, which covers most of the Pakistani region.

Also Read: PEMRA Postpones Auction of DTH Licenses Just Three Days Ahead of Bidding

The reliability and quality of these DTH services have earned it a massive amount of user subscriptions in the country. It is estimated that illegal DTH users in Pakistan range from 70,000 to 2.5 million concentrated in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. The actual penetration is said to be much higher as most of the cable operators rely on DTH services to include Star Sports, Star Movies, National Geographic, Star Sports etc. in their catalog. These channels are not permitted to air in Pakistan according to PEMRA.

“We have raided, seized and destroyed 2,500 DTH equipment in Islamabad and Lahore. We are doing all we can to stop the illegal use.” When talking about the illegal systems installed inside homes, he said “That’s where (Pakistan) Customs intelligence, FIA and other agencies have a role to play” – Fakhruddin Mughal, PEMRA spokesperson

How much is the Illegal DTH Business Thriving in the Pakistani Market?

Pakistani dealers working on behalf of Indian DTH companies smuggle the DTH equipment from India and sell the set-top boxes and antenna dishes for about Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000. The annual subscription fees are paid via websites and mobile money transfer. These fees range from Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,000. The money is then transferred to Dubai and forwarded to the Indian DTH service providers. The money is moved illegally without any record or taxation.

According to PEMRA Director General Licensing, Wakeel Khan, around $140 million (Rs 14.7 billion) were being siphoned to the Indian DTH providers annually. This money will remain in the country after local DTH services are launched.

There is a need to curb these illegal services prior to the DTH license auction planned for December 7th. PEMRA has assured the participants of the bid process that the distribution of these illegal DTH services will curbed to provide them with a fair opportunity. Seeing how complex the DTH issue is, there are reports that one of the prospective auction bidders has already opted out of the race thanks to the presence of these Indian DTH services.

What Does the Future Hold for Licensed DTH Operators?

As of now, PEMRA allows only 19 foreign and 86 Pakistani channels limiting the options available to the DTH license auction bidders who would be investing heavily in the market. PEMRA is in talks with several international broadcasters to relax the rules for the DTH licensees. DTH services will also be allowed to run their own thematic channels for on-demand content. PEMRA is looking for about $100 million to $150 million in investment, but the question still remains as to how much of the local households can afford the upfront costs and high monthly subscription charges and how will the government force local cable operators to switch to local DTH services instead of those foreign ones?

Let us know of your opinion on the matter in the comments section below.

Source: BGR

He is the Editor-in-Chief at ProPakistani. Reach out at aadil.s[at]propakistani.pk


  • “It is estimated that illegal DTH users in Pakistan range from 70,000 to 2.5 million concentrated in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.”
    From 70,000 to 2,500,000. What an estimate! It would have been better if you said 0 to 1 billion.

  • We have been using DWN connection in Lahore for last 3+yrs and we are very happy with the service. The only complain we have is the lack of channels and NO VAS.

    • DWN uses multiple Sources of Services to Provide TV like other Cable Operators. They Source in Transmission from PTCL Smart TV, Dish Tv and other Providers.

  • “but the question still remains as to how much of the local households can afford the upfront costs and high monthly subscription charges”

    But then ” around $140 million (Rs 14.7 billion) were being siphoned to the Indian DTH providers annually.”

    isn’t this contradictory?
    and lets face it Pakistani like to watch Indian entertainment channels. No matter what Gov. does unless it has some alternative to it Indian DTH is not going anywhere

    • Equipment itself is not so expensive but due to encryption technologies used in DTH the price goes way up.

          • Of course it can. Any linux device can. Even the $5 raspberry pi. And you don’t need to connect the lnb to your phone. The phone will just be used to obtain encryption keys on the fly and the decoder will do the rest.

              • Who said no signal is being fed into the decoder. The decoder is getting two inputs: encrypted satellite transmission from the Lnb and the encryption keys from the phone/Linux terminal. The phone is basically a replacement for the service card and removes the need for monthly recharge.

                • they dont need a phone and for virtual card share a decorder needs connection via web to server for keys.

              • Google dreambox cardsharing. It’s basically the same thing. You need to have some prior Linux coding experience though.

                  • Well… you see, there’s two types of satellite transmission. The first one is free to air, which is unencrypted and as the name suggests, anybody can just point their satellite at it and watch it through a standard decoder. The other one is encrypted and to get the decryption keys, you either need to subscribe to some DTH service and pay them every month, or you can set up a cheap Linux terminal to aquire the keys yourself on the fly from a remote server at no extra cost. Pretty simple.

                    • Not that easy.
                      To setup a remote server which sends keys over internet,
                      First you will need an un-paired the DTH card so that can be used in Dreambox.
                      Almost all DTH are pairing their cards with boxes only. So not all cards can be read these days. NDS Videogaurd is being more strict to card Sharing.

                    • I admit? Lol, I mentioned it in my second comment: “The phone will just be used to obtain encryption keys on the fly and the decoder will do the rest.”

                      It’s not my fault you lack reading comprehension. And I understand if this is all going over your head. Doesn’t mean it’s not possible. I suggest google would be a good place to start enlightening yourself.

                    • This what you said first ”What if I told you you could use your mobile phone to decrypt dth transmission and stream to on your tv?” then you say no It was about keys and bla bla bla. You think without any decoder you will be able to play satellite transmission? keys are encryption keys not decoding keys.

                    • Man you’re just embarrassing yourself now. Putting words into my mouth. And decoding keys? Lol, just stop. Before everyone realizes your pretending to know stuff you never no idea about.

                    • But how can anybody get those keys if they are encrypted?
                      One more thing, how can you use those keys in a decoder if it requires a username/password or a smartcard?
                      Side note: Noticed you are a big fan of Lelouch.

    • Well most people who wanted HD channels have already switched to DTH. It will take a lot of time for them to switch to local providers. Most of the remaining people have to motivated to switch to expensive local DTH providers. So the money being illegally transfered will continue unless the government find some way to stop the subscription methods

      • U are saying 100% right. first government needs to stop these Indian services, other wise it would be very difficult for government to move people from one service to other, Also government will need to set prices lower then Indian DTH, other wise people won’t switch. or maybe even buy Indian DTH in future too :/

        • Prices are upto the winning bidders and not the government and the government can’t buy indian companies as well but they do need to do something about the existing users of Indian DTH, you are right.

    • No majority don’y like Indian content, those are the English channels on-airing from India people watch here (channels like NATGEO, StarMovies,Actiontv.. etc

    • Politicians have businesses in India and earning handsome amount of money from them but they want to ban every other Indian item here which a common man can use/using.

  • @aamir7 or any body else can you please explain how DTH service get signals? Direct from satellite or local towers like mobile companies?

  • When talking about the illegal systems installed inside homes,
    he said “That’s where (Pakistan) Customs intelligence, FIA and other
    agencies have a role to play”

    Seriously ? they want to raid homes with these agencies. Now what if someone don’t want to buy Pakistani DTH too.

    • FIA has got mandate and power to raid homes. You must understand the term “illegal”. If you have an unlicensed weapon, they can raid. If you have an unlicensed car, they can raid. They can raid and take legal action for ANYTHING illegal/unlicensed in your home. Same goes for DTH.

      • My point is why to make watching international DTH illegal, Pakistani authorities always implement such insane laws. They have stopped imports , and local sellers that’s okay but raiding home for that makes no sense. Let the people get entertain from DTH they want. They can not impose local DTH on you like this. No country is preventing its people to watch international DTH. One can simply buy premium IPtv service and have those channels again via internet. What they will do then?

        • No it’s not like that. India is actally earning money from Pakistan through illegal door, not legal. if they wan’t to do business in Pakistan they should do it legally here. & get license from government like companies are getting now.

          And yes gov can raid our homes for using illegal service, and we can’t stop them from doing that.

  • If PEMRA issued licences for sports network like star sports, infotainment channels like National Geographic and Discovery and many others and children channels with DTH licences 10 years ago, there was no need to use Indian DTH.

    If any one will use Pakistani DTH, viewrs will be derpived from these channels not allowed by PEMRA. PEMRA has issued only News Channels and Entertainment Channel.

  • And I dont understand why our govt dont want to turn off analog tv and move over to digital? Even India has stopped analog tv long ago. Turning to dvb-t will free up spectrum and allow additional people to watch tv on their mobile phones,tablets,pc via usb dongle with a HD quality too.

  • if pakistani DTH will provide star sports 1-2-3-4 , Sony six , ten cricket i,ll go for it at any cost . otherwise i will stick to my cable operator he is providing me All sports channels.

  • I don’t care about Star Sports. If Pakistan DTH gives Sky Sports all channels. I will buy it in a heart beat.

    • Sky sports only licenses content for EU not asia. only star sports or ten sports licenses it for South asia region.

  • I’m positive. & it’s very good step by government. but government ko in companies ko lagaam deni hogi. taky log afford b kr sken local DTH services & behooda content b na chaly Pakistan main.

    • Pakistanis are already showing this behooda content on their own tv channels , big boss , comedy with kapil aur dosray kaie bakwas aur behoda indian program aur dramas pakistani channels per chal rahey hain….

  • ان ڈیلروں کو پکڑنا چاہیئے جو ڈش سمگل کراتے اور فروخت کرتے ہیں۔ جنھوں نے ڈش خریدی ہے وہ خود بخود سروس سے محروم ہو جائیں گے۔

    • dishes are made in Pakistan but also imported. however most decoders are smuggled via dubai a fact know by many. dont be in illusion that decoders will stop working as they can be charged online via credit card too.

  • This crack down is nothing more than a govt propaganda to drive mian shareef company’s dth service. after one year govt will also apply 40 tax on it like mobile service and thus people will start using indian or foreign dth again….

  • do anyone plz tell me the best dth provider with great quality and cheap rates :) and also give some great analysis on this dth providers.

  • I think better start your own DTH Services in Pakistan, rather than cracking the India DTH.
    Poor Performance by PEMRA and frustration thru such steps.
    PEMRA Role is just a puppet,after politicizing a neutral institute.Better manage your policies or asked Ishaq Dar to come forward to interfere wherever he feels money interest.

  • Restricting Indian DTH is a good gesture of PEMRA but not launching own services will definitely not serve the purpose.


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