Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), in two different letters written to the Federal Government, has requested for grant of status of industry to cable TV sector and to grant Tax Holiday/ Exemption on import of Digitalization equipment, thus facilitating cable operators in meeting digitalization deadline by September 30, 2016.
While pleading the demands of cable TV operators on both issues, PEMRA in their letters have urged Federal Government that the Cable TV services in Pakistan have attained a significant status in the socio-economic set up of the country. The sector has developed enormously in terms of provision of quality media services, establishing reliable business enterprises and adoption of latest technologies. This multifarious development has generated considerable economic activity and the prospects of further enhancement are markedly visible.
PEMRA letter highlights that it has more than 4000 licensed cable TV licensees who are significantly contributing to media growth, investments and employment in Pakistan. The scarcity of funds and market incentive are acting as an impediment in achieving the desired level of development in the cable TV sector.
Adding support for cable TV operators, PEMRA says that there are 74 million Cable & Satellite viewers and 61 million terrestrial viewers. According to available estimates, a cumulative investment in the electronic media sector in Pakistan is US$ 4 billion and direct/ indirect employments is 250,000. The introduction of new technologies i.e. DTH, IPTV, Mobile ‘IV, Satellite Radio and digitalization of Cable TV will further generate opportunities for investment & employment in the production of set-top boxes, digital receivers and allied technologies which makes a strong basis for declaring the Cable TV sector as an industry. This move would enable cable operators to avail short-term and long-term loan facilities, import duty exemptions and other allied facilities normally extended to an “industry”.
In addition to encouraging local and foreign investments, the industry will also facilitate import, as well as manufacturing of better quality equipment at consumer-friendly market prices. Those developments will subsequently lead to improvement in the quality of cable TV services, at par with the global standards.
Moreover, PEMRA, on request of Cable Operators Association of Pakistan (CAP), has requested FBR through Federal Government for declaring tax holiday/ exemption from tax on import of equipment required for digitalization of cable TV services and set-top boxes (STBs). This would facilitate CTV operators to digitalize their respective cable TV services and to meet the international (ITU) commitment. Exemption in taxes/ duties on import of such equipment will also reduce the cost of digitalization and its ultimate benefit would be passed on to the general public in the shape of low prices of digital cable TV services. The said exemptions would also facilitate import of quality equipment at consumer friendly market prices, says PEMRA.
Strike Against Tax Imposed By Punjab Revenue Authority
It is worth mentioning that Pakistan Cable Operator Association has announced to suspend three-hour transmission of all private channels from Thursday (tomorrow) till a week to protest against the tax imposed by Punjab Revenue Authority.
The head of all Pakistan Cable Operators Association, Captain (R) Jabbar had demanded from Punjab government to revoke tax levied on cable operators. He warned that the broadcasts will be suspended if the government did not enter negotiations with them by Thursday.
Captain (R) Jabbar had stated that Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif must take notice of the tax imposed on cable operators.