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Wednesday, July 24, 2024  
17 Muharram 1446  

Cable operators win promise of a govt crackdown against OTT platforms

The association chairman says OTT platforms are hurting their revenue
Cable operators association chairman Khalid Arain speaking to media on 16/21/2023 - Screengrab via YouTube/Aaj TV
Cable operators association chairman Khalid Arain speaking to media on 16/21/2023 - Screengrab via YouTube/Aaj TV

Cable Operators Association of Pakistan Chairman Khalid Arain has announced that the body has won a promise from the government to launch a nationwide crackdown against over-the-top (OTT) platforms, such as Netflix, after Eid ul Azha.

“While the cable operators are restricted from broadcasting famous channels, other platforms have all the freedom to show such channels. Our hands are tied as others are hurting our business,” he told a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Flanked by the association members, he spoke to reporters outside the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) headquarters.

OTT stands for “over-the-top” and refers to technology that delivers streamed content over the internet.

“We demanded that those cable operators, who are providing internet and cable service, should be regularised,” he added.

He said that the operators’ demands have been met by the authorities and a committee will decide on the issue of the licence and the crackdown against OTT platform users after Eid ul Azha.

He said that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority collects the Local Loop license fee from cable operators in US dollars, while subscribers pay the cable operators in rupee terms.

The license is issued by the PTA for the provision of fixed-line telecommunication services within a Telecom Region using medium excluding wireless.

Arain urged Pemra and the finance minister to facilitate the cable operators in paying the fee in PKRs.

He also called for zero-tax on the industry, saying that similar to the solar power industry, the taxes on cable operators should also be relaxed.

How OTT works

In the past, a consumer would take out a cable subscription and their cable TV provider would be responsible for the supply and availability of programming. Now, users can sign up for OTT streaming platforms and access their content over the internet.

The services operates on a paid subscription basis. It delivers streaming content via the internet across devices including mobile phones, smart TVs, computers, and tablets. The content that is streamed can include video, music, and messaging.

The most commonly referred to OTT service is video streaming. Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, and YouTube are OTT providers in the video streaming space.

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Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority

Khalid Arain