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Pemra refutes media reports on regulating Web TV, OTT content services

February 01, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Friday refuted the news stories published in a section of press on draft consultation on regulating the Web TV and Over the Top TV (OTT) Content Services in Pakistan.

In a rebuttal issued by Pemra to the news items published, the Pemra claimed that in the news reports it was alleged that through the Draft Consultation on Regulating the Web TV & Over the Top TV (OTT) Content Services in Pakistan, Pemra intends to curtail the freedom of speech and to gag voices.

The allegation is totally denied. The objective for the consultation on regulating Web TV & Over the Top TV Content Services is elaborated in Section 1.2 of the Consultation Paper wherein it has been elaborated that the extensive growth of the web TV and OTT market and the excessive disruption of these services to traditional broadcast services have made regulators vigilant all over the world.

Moreover, the broadcasters and TV operators and other traditional service providers are losing their market share to online web TV and content providers, it added. Although, there were other regulatory issues also which necessitate it to bring under regulations the Web TV & OTT services.

For example all Pemra licensed broadcasters are subject to compliance with Code of Conduct-2015 which required the operators to have in-house time delaying mechanism and editorial control to filter out content which is not in compliance with the Code etc, the Pemra added.

However, the web TV and OTT players were not subject to any code of conduct and other Pemra laws. Moreover, as a regulator, it was the responsibility of Pemra to provide a level playing field to all stakeholders. Since OTT & Web TV operators were competing for the same advertisement or subscription revenue as the licensed operators, therefore, it was imperative that the services be regulated at par with other services.

Pemra has received tremendous response from some stakeholders including international players on the consultation process. As a result of public feedback received through this consultation process, recommendations for regulating the web TV & Over the Top TV content will be finalised. It is unfortunate that instead of giving feedback in a professional way and sharing concerns if any with the regulator, some individuals and organisations have adopted a highly objectionable way of simply rejecting the consultation process and have initiated a smear campaign against Pemra. More the news that Pemra has circulated another version of the draft regulation with the federal cabinet is totally false and devoid of any facts.