TATA Group — Indian multinational conglomerate headquartered out of Mumbai, is all set to buy DTH license in Pakistan through a proxy company, revealed Dr. Shahid Masood in his TV program recently.
Citing an unnamed source out of New Delhi, Dr. Shahid Masood said that TATA Group — that already enjoys the illegal monopoly of DTH services in Pakistan — is now set to buy DTH license in Pakistan through a front company.
Anchor, while explaining the arrangement, said that TATA group won’t buy this license directly, instead a front company will be managing TATA’s business in Pakistan. However, investment, returns and all other business functions will be controlled by TATA group.
Indian company’s effort, in collaboration with the CM, to hijack DTH auction is alarming
Dr. Shahid claimed that, according to his source, TATA group was given assurance in this regard by a son of Chief Minister of a larger province of Pakistan during his visit to India.
No marks for guessing who the anchor was referring to, the sad part is that, if proven true, this could mean that ordinary Pakistanis stand to lose a lot from this development.
Just imagine. A sole Indian company TATA introducing, handling and running the DTH in Pakistan through a subsidiary or front company.
History of the DTH Auction Issue in Pakistan
Ever since DTH process was started back in 2003, it faced hurdles upon hurdles with legal proceedings delaying the auction process on one pretext or another. Whatever the case may be, the government of the day was deprived of huge potential to earn directly.
In addition to this, numerous employment opportunities were lost whose sole beneficiaries were to be the very people of Pakistan. Not only that, but the national exchequer lost a handsome opportunity to earn taxes.
Outside our borders, a brief look around Asia reveals that our neighboring countries like China, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka either have a fully functional DTH distribution service or they are on course to set up the same in near future. DTH platform is not only yielding huge taxes and fees to the Government, they also are being effectively used as a means of disseminating education and training at the doorstep of households.
Besides, illegal DTH penetration is a huge challenge faced by PEMRA with Indian programming and culture directly relayed without any check and balance. Some might argue that same Indian content is being broadcasted via Cinemas and Internet, but is the country benefiting from this? In terms of taxes and technological advancement that is?
The whole operation of illegal DTH is ab initio void and challenges the very writ of the Government. There are more than 3 million subscribers to illegal DTH operations, due to which 3 Billion Rupees are being lost monthly without any tax revenue for the Government. The actual potential of DTH is not being not explored, which happens to be a multi-billion market just waiting to be tapped.
One way adopted by PEMRA in collaboration with FIA was to crack down on the dealers and distributors of DTH equipment and services but in vain. The arrival of such equipment from China and Dubai through smuggling is the root issue where PEMRA does not have any jurisdiction, but the Customs department does.
Recently, the concerned authorities must have had resorted to auction DTH Distribution Licenses to overcome this illegal activity comprising financial loss but as expected, like in 2003, the process has again faced a delay.
This time, however, the delay came due to internal management issues as the long-awaited appointment of PEMRA chairman was done at a time when the DTH license auction was almost nearing its ultimate fate.
All the shortlisted applicants were shocked to receive a memo from PEMRA that the said process, which was going smoothly, has been halted.
On a personal note, being a true patriot who wants Pakistan to flourish in all walks of life on its own, the intervention of an Indian company in collaboration with the CM to hijack and cancel the DTH auction is a major setback.
Financial losses, deprivation of general public from viewing channels of their choice, taking away the right of learning and a parental-controls features for TV viewership are matters which need attention at this point of time.
PakSat is also being deprived of huge potential to use its satellites for this venture which by the way can earn millions through leasing out its equipment for DTH.
Unhindered completion of DTH License auction can potentially allow FDI worth billions, create thousands of job opportunities, contribute significantly to Government treasury and kick start a new technological era in Pakistan. Delays like the past will only serve the vested interests of a select few.