Services 'suspended' in parts of country as cable operators go on strike

Published: November 21, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Despite the finance minister’s assurances, the majority of cable operators in Pakistan shut down their services indefinitely on Monday to protest government plans to launch Direct-to-Home (DTH) television services in the country.

“We have taken this step after the finance minister refused to delay the [DTH licence] bidding process,” Cable Operators Association President Sohail Iqbal told The Express Tribune. He said they did everything they could to push the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to delay the bidding, which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

“We knew one day we would have to close down our businesses therefore it is better to do it from today [Monday],” Iqbal said. “We have decided to go on strike and shut down our business before Pemra does by issuing DTH licences on November 23,” he added.

Cable operators threaten strike over DTH issue

Iqbal said most cable operators had agreed to go on strike, but a few had refused to shut down their services.

Earlier on November 15, Cable Operators Association Chairman Khalid Arain said the launch of DTH was not justified since cable operators had invested billions of rupees in converting the analogue cable system into the digital one. “It will ruin their businesses and cause a huge economic loss,” he had said.

According to Arain, cable operators need at least three years to create awareness among the people about cable digitalisation. The introduction of DTH will not provide us the opportunity to promote it, he claimed.

Talking to The Express Tribune, a Pemra spokesperson said Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in meetings with the cable operators on November 19 and 20 assured them DTH services would not be launched until November 1, 2017. However, Dar did not agree over delaying the bidding process.

DTH launch to inject $400m in media sector

The Pemra spokesperson claimed that cable operators had agreed with Dar but decided to go on strike anyway. “It’s a tactic to pressurise the government, which is clear exploitation,” he said. The spokesperson added that Pemra’s doors would always remain open for negotiations.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Adnan
    Nov 21, 2016 - 5:32PM

    Presently thousands of people associated with Cable TVs, government at one hand unable to provide employment opportunities and on second hand they are closing down local businesses. Ultimately business will goes to one or two big Multinationals and local people will suffer.

    Take example of China where government still preferred human intensive work rather then complete automation. but who cares when you got under the table commission.Recommend

  • Azzam
    Nov 21, 2016 - 7:05PM

    In developed countries we have both cable plus Satellite TV. Beginning of satellite TV doesnot mean finishing off cable tv. But yes it will bring competition which ofcourse cable tv operators donot want . Recommend

  • haroon khan
    Nov 21, 2016 - 7:50PM

    what is DTH serviceRecommend

  • Ch. K. A. Nye
    Nov 22, 2016 - 6:24AM

    @Haroon Khan: DTH is Direct To Home satellite TV programming. High quality audio and video with a far more reliable service than the erratic, mostly low quality offerings of existing cable operators. Recommend

  • Banker
    Nov 22, 2016 - 7:20AM

    People should have option of DTH. Say no to cable mafia Recommend

  • JKhan
    Nov 22, 2016 - 8:02AM

    PLEASE DON’T RETRACT PEMRA. Let them go on strike. They will soon be begging on their knees. They have done more damage to our country by spreading immorality and obscenity. We are happy. In this modern technology world cable is too small an object. People have alternatives.Recommend

  • ABC
    Nov 22, 2016 - 9:31AM

    I’ve told my cable operator to dont come for collecting bill this month. If I am not getting service, they are not going to get their fee. Everyone should do the same to teach thes cable mafia a lesson Recommend

  • Nilofer
    Nov 22, 2016 - 9:37AM

    My cable operator is the best. We can see recorded Naagin, Big Boss and Kapil Sharma shows easily. I dont think DTH can provide this facility.Recommend

  • Haris
    Nov 22, 2016 - 10:06AM

    All I see on cable TVs is a pathetic ads on 75% of the screen and the actual channel on 25% of the screen. THey have invested Billions !! are you kidding me ? cable operators are not investing a penny besides what is required to run the business operations. Look at the quality of cable Tv throughout Pakistan, they are not capable of providing any HD channel. Now they are in panic because customers will have a choice and will not opt for their inefficient services !

    Please don’t hinder in the progress, it will only make things worse for yourself.Recommend

  • Junaid Ahmed
    Nov 22, 2016 - 1:00PM

    PEMRA should come under pressure by these thugs, they have already earned enough.Recommend

  • Ch. KA Nye
    Nov 22, 2016 - 2:20PM

    @Haris: You are very right. The audio/video quality of the cable services are indeed pathetic. I experience random disconnections on particular channels like Sci-Fi, NatGeo, Discovery etc., and then a day later its back only to be disconnected a few hours later. The equipment and customer service is substandard except for bill collection which is very prompt. Recommend

  • Ch. KA Nye
    Nov 22, 2016 - 2:27PM

    And who is Mr. Dar to commit to the Cable operators that DTH will not be implemented until November 1st 2017??? He is the Finance Minister and certainly not responsible for such decisions.

    This is yet another example of interference of the kitchen cabinet outside of their jurisdiction.Recommend

  • Asjad
    Nov 22, 2016 - 3:10PM

    For once Pemra and Government shouldn’t back out. Recommend

  • Amir
    Nov 22, 2016 - 4:05PM

    How can these cable operators educate people about DTH? They are bunch of blackmailers who do not want to improve cable operations in Pakistan, and rely on archaic overhead cables which ruins the neighborhood with wires everywhereRecommend

  • bashgul
    Nov 22, 2016 - 4:49PM

    GO CABLE OPERATORS GO, WE WANT DTH, WE WANT DTH, fed up with cable operators, except for few news channels, the rest are never clear.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Nov 22, 2016 - 8:13PM

    Second try!
    Satellite TV DTH can be received anywhere in Pakistan that has a dish view of the satellites in the sky! Cable is only available where the cable companies choose to run lines, usually only in dense populated areas!Recommend

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