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Formative period Even ordinarily, the formative period in the life of a new organization are testing times. Systems have to be evolved, tried, refined and firmed up to meet its ends. A pool of managerial, professional and technical skills has to be raised, groomed and adapted to its needs and requirements. Financial hiccups have to be overcome and controls put in place to keep a check on spending and ensure legitimate use of money. This period is all the more intricate and difficult when it comes to an organization established in a field hitherto nationally unexplored. There are no readymade homegrown models to draw upon. Alien models do not help. Embedded in their own milieus, they reflect values and demands of their own peoples. Hence, the new organization has to work in a complete void. Virtually, it has to start from scratch in every manner. It was in this predicament that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) faced up to this formative period in its life. It was for the first time that Pakistan was launching private enterprise in the field of electronic media. Regulating private ventures in the domain was thus an entirely new experience. The complexity of the task was further complicated by the very intrinsic sensitivity of the field, involving delicate issues requiring careful handling. But with the grace of Allah (Subhanhu-wa-Taala), the Authority has successfully overcome the trials and tribulations of the formative period and is now well poised for a smooth run. The experiences gained during this time have helped to transform it into a sound and robust media-friendly and public-oriented organization. Requisite legal instruments have been framed. Required regulatory regime is in place. Necessary administrative and professional manpower is in position. Essential systems and mechanisms are operational. Financial checks and controls have been built. And the Authority is now fully in business. The year 2002-03 was indeed an exciting time for the Authority. A widespread interest was discernible in the private sector to have a go on the newfound field of enterprise. Of course, it's unthinkable to think of private venture without profit motive. And profit considerations should be acceptable unless they threaten to degenerate into rank commercialism.
if at all it could be so termed. the Authority decided to open its year's book with licences for FM radio stations. they have emerged as popular tools for mass literacy drives. Its principal impulsion is to stimulate and facilitate in every manner the spawning and growth of a powerful private electronic media apparatus. Likewise. non-commercial media enterprises to spread literacy in the country where more than half of our people are illiterate. societal moderation. The Authority was heartened by the enthusiastic response that its calls for bids drew. institutions of higher learning have been employing the electronic media on a large scale for classroom teaching and diverse other educational purposes. And in no manner does it feel uncomfortable with the popular interest in mega media projects. No less gratifying for the Authority was an evident eagerness of some educational institutions to utilize the field's openness for their academic pursuits. Even in advanced countries. and a foolproof. Its only preference. And nothing would please the Authority as much if private players do come forward to launch non-profit. And in many a developing polity. And . a clearly-defined criterion for assessing the suitability of aspirants for licence was put in place. An operational plan was devised. the Authority has soft corner for no particular medium to develop.Operational strategy Notably. That in fact holds up the pleasing prospect of elevating Pakistan to the ranks of global media players. the Authority has no overriding preferences in the promotion of electronic media in the private sector. But the Authority was enthused to discern a large measure of interest in FM radio broadcasting. The interest put on display in the electronic media by a clutch of our universities for enhancing their academic pursuits has spurred the Authority's confidence that in time the field will catch as much fancy of the academia as of the entrepreneurial class. sectarian harmony. mutual tolerance and the nation's advancement at home and a powerful image-builder of Pakistan abroad. is that this apparatus should be a potent catalyst for national cohesion. benchmarks for processing the applications were fixed. FM Radios Sensing a mounting interest in radio broadcasting in the private sector and for educational channels on the campuses. It views the whole range of electronic media as a field worth private enterprise. open and transparent bidding procedure was laid out. which is competitive both nationally and internationally.
the bidders for the stations were by and large serious players. the Authority used the first phase of its licensing operation for FM radio stations to cater to the scramble for licences in metropolises and principal towns. all with one merit or the other about them. which has been launched. high leaps often end up in headlong falls. Caution and gradualism have been its watchwords throughout. with worldwide reach and audience. to a nation's great honour and prestige. Satellite TV Having said that. The real fun indeed is to let them have their own FM radio stations. and laid out an elaborate procedure of processing and scrutiny of the . But when it comes to competition. In keeping with its cautious approach and policy of moving up step-by-step. And in the second phase of the Authority's licensing operation for FM radio stations. Arguably. they are most likely to attract interested parties for establishing broadcast stations there. the Authority decided to start with the process to award satellite television broadcast station licences to Pakistani companies incorporated under the Companies Ordinance. 1984. among the licensees were the country's three top ranking universities: the Punjab University. smaller cities and towns are expected to catch the eye of the prospective media investors. one must confess that it is the national Satellite TV stations that hold the real potential of developing into global players. Though the response to its bid calls for electronic media stations was impressive. Pruning and short-listing of aspirants according to prescribed criteria and benchmarks becomes inevitable and indispensable. they were worthy parties. not infrequently spectacular. the Peshawar University and the International Islamic University of Islamabad. it had handed over as many as 29 licences for FM radio stations. Motivated serious players are needed to raise viable media networks of national and provincial import. That clearly involves an intrusive process of sifting grain from the bran. talent and infrastructure readily available in them. Now that the prescribed slots for big urban centres have largely been occupied. too. it naturally has to be a contest between the fittest of the fit. the Authority all through assiduously resisted the temptation of a rash rush. In most cases. Accordingly.by the end of the year. More remarkably. They had the requisite capital. Modest starts with steady pace culminate in successes. Quite delightfully. It made for a realistic and pragmatic sense to exhaust maximally the craze for owning FM stations in big cities so that the entrepreneurial interest could switch over to smaller cities and towns.
cable TV is the largest and fastest-growing medium among the country's electronic media. was the first to get licence to operate two educational satellite TV channels from Pakistan. Almost all the world TV networks have switched over to decoder. cable TV's spread is bound to grow still larger along with its infrastructure. And since the private enterprise is not sufficiently motivated to set shop in remoter areas. have already been pumped into the sector. While the sector is employing some 30. One is to allow exceedingly low licence rates. They must have as much media access and choices as have their urban cousins. Lahore. For its pluses in bandwidth utilization. for establishing cable TV stations in the rural areas. .000 people. business. this decision. some incentives were needed to draw it in there. Hence. The other is to bring home the Multi-channel Multi-point Distribution System (MMDS) as part of the Authority's charter to introduce the latest in media technologies to the country. And the investment is believed to be growing at the phenomenal rate of 132 percent annually. And this is what the people are doing increasingly in Pakistan. In the days ahead. data transmission. But with just a paltry sum.applications. almost 70 percent less than the normal. Some 7. Only seven could come up to the fixed benchmarks. as elsewhere in the world. the MMDS was a natural choice for the Authority to bring home. they can access them all through the agency of cable TV. The national cable TV sector is indeed set to prosper because of the Authority's two landmark decisions. signals quality and distribution spectrum. With its capability to distribute 60 digital channels. information and education. to the people's benefit. The process has been set in motion for the establishment of the MMDS stations by private entrepreneurs in the country. The Virtual University. The issuance of licence to the other six applicants was in advanced stage of finalization as the year closed. workforce and clientele. cable TV is estimated to have already entered some four million homes. this most advanced system in digital technology is currently making waves the world over. an expensive gadgetry not within the means of the bulk of people. Cable TV Interestingly.28 billion rupees. The 10 aspirants who formally applied for setting up satellite TV stations in response to the Authority's public notice were subjected to the prescribed criterion and scrutiny. The country folks who make up the 70 percent of our people understandably cannot be left out from availing of the latest media technologies for entertainment. it is estimated.
all having full legal backup. the subscribers can themselves be more prudent and selective. no doubt. and even throws up undesirable crises. to put order to the as-yet somewhat chaotic cable TV sector.Some 18 companies have successfully bid for setting up 24 stations in different cities. The situation on the cable TV's front is disquieting. The indications are too compelling. armed with inspection teams. With the establishment of its fully functional regional offices. presumably for the advantages that accrue in terms of protections. 640 related to the quality of service as against 263 that related to obscenity. the Authority's preferred instrument still remains the language of persuasion than the stick of law. and the Councils of Complaints. out of the 1004 written complaints that the Authority received during the year. collect its dues and recover arrears from them. Of course. the cable operators issued licences by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. Worth particular mention is the . Not infrequently professionalism. The public outcry never subsides over the cable operators' quality of service and the programme brew they serve to the subscribers. So much so. But they have evidently begun shedding off their initial reluctance and are now increasingly coming forward to get them renewed. It only rages. Nevertheless. remains problematic. But the CTV sector. In fact. it's the quality of service that draws them flak even severer than what they get on the score of pornography and obscenity. either. The Authority has set up a slew of systems and mechanisms. The Authority has sought to involve the community intimately. ethics and morality are seen here being beheaded nonchalantly at the chopping block of stark business interests. sadly. safeguards and security from being a PEMRA family's member. the Authority has acquired a sizeable muscle to exact compliance from cable operators to its regulatory regime and the code of ethics. The stick. which was handling this job before the PEMRA's advent. Nearly half of them had done it by the year's end. actively and in an organized manner in its vigilance of the cable TV sector. flush out those operating illegally. As for instance. But it isn't irredeemable. It is the Authority's firm conviction that persuasion works well to keep the people on the right track and impel the erring to mend their ways. This new venture is sure to open up yet another avenue to the private cable sector to flourish. Nor is it fair to put them in the dock for every act of omission and commission. The rest were expected to follow suit. it isn't right to put all the dirty eggs in the cable operators' basket. plus its own paraphernalia at the head office. were found evasive in having them renewed. it is the operators' primary responsibility to give them satisfactory quality service. Indeed. going by the public complaints that the Authority receives formally and informally. creates problems where none exist. Nonetheless. at times. At least in the choice of channels for viewing. the repair process seems to have already begun. unnecessarily precipitates avoidable tensions and conflicts.
it created during the year an enforcement wing. As they say in the . and will remain so. They volunteered to get drafted in the campaign in response to the Authority's public call. It is too big for its own enforcement staff to monitor. the induction of volunteers in the monitoring of cable TV networks was far more compelling due to their expanse. They monitor the cable operations in their neighbourhoods for quality of service and channels and programmes being put out and report to the Authority. and retired judges and civil and military officers. a legal wing. this deficiency is bound to increase in view of the magnitude and speed with which the cable TV is expanding in the country. They spread out all over the country. Rather. Yet. But what is important is to note that there is a perceptible turnaround in the situation. It is in vogue in many a country. some states have found business rivalries and jealousies as a great revealer of the errant. not just in the media field but in diverse other domains. And it would not be wrong to say that in times ahead the abiders will be far more than the offenders. local opinion leaders. And consequently more voluntary inductions for monitoring activity would be required by the Authority. wrongs will be committed because that is how the human nature works. free flow of ideas and encouragement of talent. the Authority has consciously adopted the corporate culture. In our case. journalists. composed of public-spirited people. There is nothing unusual about this kind of voluntary system of monitoring. quicker decisions. it would be unrealistic to assume there would be ever no errors or erratic behaviours. a span that understandably is impossible to scan by the Authority all alone. All said and told. The guiding principle of the policy is to create where unavoidably indispensable and recruit where absolutely essential. Human Resource For its working. the deviant and the evader. Speaking realistically. The objective is to make for effective dispersal of delegation of powers. In fact. One hallmark of this prudent. And there is a definite positive change in the cable operator community's own outlook and thinking. social workers. the mechanisms and systems instituted by the Authority to keep an eye on cable operations are demonstrably working and paying off. hassles-free procedures. an engineering wing and a public relations wing as was essential to its functions and duties. educationists. Some 102 of them are already in position in various cities. merit and transparency are the two inviolable principles of its recruitment policy. an IT wing.creation of a countrywide PEMRA Friends club. pragmatic and realistic administration policy is that it abhors profligacy and adores frugality. In line with this policy. in spite of all its monitoring and enforcement mechanisms of the Authority. And since it is the human resource of an organization that makes the difference.
100 million. The Authority had budgeted Rs. it was to fend for itself. the Authority earned Rs. stands at 101.540 million. so has it at this year's end. thereby netting a net saving of Rs. For the rest. The Government of Pakistan had authorised the Authority in its charter to obtain bank loans for its running. It was to generate its own funds and raise its own revenues for its upkeep. To spend only where it is unavoidable and conserve money wherever practically possible are the two pillars of its financial policy. 70. Similarly. Its present establishment strength. The Authority wants to keep the strength taped at that as far as practically possible. The Government had given it only some seed money to set shop. 99. economy conforms the Authority's financial policy. 111. it had fixed the year's revenue targets at Rs. the Authority is very choosy in the selection for its manpower. . All told. thus exceeding the targets by 11. and selects the best possible. Just as it had showed a net saving after the first three months of its infancy. it advertises the posts repeatedly. More importantly. By following a tight financial policy. including regional offices.military parlance. the Authority's finances are healthy and strong. puts the candidates to written tests and interviews. In once case when the number of candidates (for the posts of Assistant General Managers and supervisors) was very large. But with the blessings of Allah its financial health has been so buoyant that not even the thought of loan or subsidy had occurred to it. But with concerted efforts for revenue generation and collection of dues and arrears. To get the best is always its wish. 29. Finances Just as in administration.676 million. The same urge informs its requisition of experienced officers and staff from the government departments. the Authority hired the services of experienced and respected Institute of Cost Management and Accounts Pakistan (ICMAP) to conduct the examination and select the best. in no event the Authority wants to accumulate even an ounce of fat. the Authority is now not only self-sustaining and self-sufficient financially but it is also in surplus.540 million. But with tight checks and controls. it kept the actual spending contained at Rs. And it is paying off well.997 million for the year's expenditure. it is not the gun but the man behind the gun who matters. In the case of direct recruitment.320 million.
Those that worked well would be solidified. the year 2002-03 was decidedly eventful. Only the private enterprise has to show the intent. Those that could not perform according to expectations would be suitably amended to make them efficacious. some amendments may have to be proposed to the PEMRA Ordinance 2002. The weak spots have been identified. have become the weapons of that war. Possibly. For the Authority. Moreover the burden of coverage was placed almost entirely on the national broadcasters. A copy of this plan is again included in this report. the Authority had prepared a plan of action for liberalizing the media. namely Radio Pakistan. Out of this. except for Karachi. Some of its systems and mechanisms practically proved their worth. It would not find the Authority wanting on that score in any event. Full coverage is not available to the 100% residents. the electronic in particular.Epilogue In the year ending June. . The Authority is determined to give all props to the electronic media in the private sector to fight for the share of minds successfully. 2002. A comparison was also made with other countries in the developing world. A copy of the study is placed in the report. Some others were found wanting here and there. Whatever it takes. both at the national and international levels. will and grit to become that potent weapon. It may be mentioned that the number of radio stations in Pakistan is very small. One was the Cable TV licensing which was allowed on continuous basis and the other was the setting up of FM Radio stations in the country. debated and crystallized to remove the lacunas. And media. Ideas are being explored. A house study was carried out to determine the need of the radio stations in the country including their viability. two activities which required smaller capital were undertaken. the Authority must become an effective institution in every manner. It deals with a domain that holds a strategic import in the prevalent global conditions. But it was also a great learning time for it. Wars are now being fought in the minds. Lahore and Islamabad where one private station each also operates.
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