Earlier this month, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) called for regulating web television and over-the-top (OTT) content services in the country. However, recent reports suggest that the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights has rejected the proposed move.
After the committee called PEMRA Chairman, Saleem Baig, for a briefing about the authority’s recent proposal, the Senate unanimously decided that PEMRA has no jurisdiction to regulate web TV and over-the-top (OTT) content services.
“(PEMRA) failed to satisfy us regarding jurisdiction,” said committee chairman, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, once the committee had conducted a detailed discussion on the merits and demerits of the proposed regulation.
According to Senator Khokhar, PEMRA’s contention that Section 2(c) of its ordinance allows it to regulate digital media services contradicts the regulator’s position.
“The committee finds PEMRA has no jurisdiction (over this issue),” stated Khokar with the approval of the committee members present. “PEMRA’s proposal of regulation (for Web TV and OTT) is tantamount to going beyond its mandate and in contravention of Article 19.”
Though Senator Khokhar said all the concerns regarding the regulation raised before the committee were significant, the question of jurisdiction was of central importance as it made all other issues secondary. For now, Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights’ decision effectively terminates the media regulator’s plans that were made public last month when PEMRA shared a consultation paper to seek comments about the regulation of online streaming media services.