ISLAMABAD: The FM radio licensees on Monday demanded a level playing field, as they have got their licenses by investing millions of rupees, whereas, the revenue chunk is being shared by a number of state owned FM radios who are neither licensees of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), nor have invested huge sums of money.
The demand came in a one-day seminar on the topic of “Future of FM Radio in Pakistan”, which was organised by PEMRA in collaboration with BBC. The panellists and participants also demanded to relax the regulatory conditions so that they could broadcast some percentage of foreign content akin to the state run radios.
The private-commercial FM licensees also demanded PEMRA to strictly enforce non-commercial FM licensees to operate within their ambit and scope. They proposed PEMRA and private FM licensees to jointly formulate a repository of content to overcome the shortage of content.
They also proposed a regulated rating mechanism for FM radio sector for fair distribution of advertising business on the basis of reach and listenership of FM radios. Major emphasis of the seminar was to share the views, experiences and knowledge of the panellists about the possible future of FM radio in Pakistan in terms of legal and regulatory perspectives, investment opportunities and growth, keeping in view the value for money.
PEMRA Acting Chairman Kamaluddin Tipu, in his welcome note, pondered light on the radio broadcasting sector in Pakistan. He said FM broadcasting is contributing positively in spreading education, information and entertainment at grass roots level and are consequently creating awareness in society. This was the third seminar that PEMRA has conducted on the subject of FM Radio during the current year.
The FM radio sector, unfortunately remained neglected in past and even on part of PEMRA, no efforts were taken to bring the FM radio stakeholders closer in order to sort out their problems and challenges.
Major emphasis of last two workshops was to engage stakeholders to identify issues relating to the FM radio licensing e.g. tariff, renewal of licenses, operational issues and other hurdles being faced by FM radio licensees.
Other important aspect of the workshop was to create awareness about PEMRA laws, regulations and code of conduct. The panellists informed that the world is now moving towards Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) and Satellite Radios, however, FM radio is still one of the most important, economical and widely accessible broadcasting service that has tremendous impact on people and listeners.
BBC West Asia Business Development Manager Dusan Masic briefed about the significance of FM radio broadcasting and highlighted the role of PEMRA in providing platform to the FM licensees to come closer and understand the FM radio sector in Pakistan.
The participants of first panel that included PEMRA Legal Head Murtaza Solangi, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) former director general Imran Bajwa and Power 99 Islamabad CEO Najib Ahmad thoroughly debated on the topic of “Radio Today & Tomorrow – Legal Issues”. Concluding the Seminar, Kamaluddin Tipu thanked all participants and speakers for making the seminar a success.
He said that the viewpoint and suggestions of learned participants would help PEMRA in future policy making. PEMRA assured all stakeholders to offer maximum facilitation to stakeholders and investors by considering their acceptable demands.