Tuesday, February 18, 2020

PEMRA Clarifies After Backlash Over OTT and Web TV Licensing

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PEMRA has denied the stories published within the local media regarding the Draft Consultation on Regulating the online TV & Over the highest TV (OTT) Content Services in Pakistan, PEMRA.

According to the discharge statement, PEMRA has noted that within the report it’s been alleged that through the Draft Consultation on Regulating the online TV & Over the highest TV (OTT) Content Services in Pakistan, PEMRA intends to curtail the liberty of speech and to gag voices.

The allegation is completely denied by the regulator.

The objective for the consultation on regulating Web TV & Over the highest TV Content Services is elaborated in Section 1.2 of the Consultation Paper wherein it’s been elaborated that the extensive growth of the online TV & OTT market and therefore the excessive disruption of those services to traditional broadcast services have made regulators vigilant everywhere the planet .

Moreover, the broadcasters /TV operators and other traditional service providers are losing their market share to online web TV and content providers.

The statement further said that there are other regulatory issues also which necessitate it to bring under regulations the online TV & OTT services.

For example all PEMRA licensed broadcasters are subject to compliance with Code of Conduct-2015 which require the operators to possess in-house time delaying mechanism & editorial control to filter content which isn’t in compliance with the Code etc.

However, the online TV and OTT players aren’t subject to any code of conduct & other PEMRA laws, stated the regulator.

As a regulator, it’s the responsibility of PEMRA to supply A level playing field to all or any stakeholders. Since OTT & Web TV operators are competing for an equivalent advertisement or subscription revenue because the licensed operators, therefore, it’s imperative that the services be regulated at par with other services.

Furthermore, by regulating the online TV & OTT Content Services, the service providers are going to be susceptible to pay taxes as per the applicable laws even as other licensees of PEMRA are required to try to to so.

PEMRA stated that the scope of regulation is elaborated in Section 2 of the Consultation Paper. it’s been clearly mentioned within the said section that services that are primarily non-commercial or non-economic, and which aren’t in competition with television broadcasting (linear or non-linear TV) might not be classified as OTT or Web TV.

This may include public service material, user-generated video content posted by private individuals for non-commercial purposes of sharing and exchange within communities of interest/ groups, etc.

However, it appears, those that will generate content for commercial purposes will need to pay a hefty licensing fee.

”No draconian regulations are being formulated which is obvious from the very fact that PEMRA is engaging during a meaningful consultation with the industry and public in a transparent and open manner.” added the statement

The regulator said that it’s 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 online TV & Over the highest TV content are going to be finalized, read the statement.

”It is unfortunate that rather than giving feedback during a professional way and sharing concerns if any with the regulator, some individuals and organizations 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 completely false and barren of any facts.” said the discharge statement.

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