PEMRA to create its own USF to extend Digitalization in Pakistan

The electronic regulatory authority shared a meeting with the National Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting under the chairperson, Mrs. Anusha Rahman where Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority declared a plan to establish its very own Universal Service Fund (USF) for the stretching of digitalization plan in the lagging areas of the country.

As per the demand of PEMRA, Rs. 75 million should be allotted for USF out of the annual budget being made in 2017 so that the amount will help in the preliminary implementation of digitalization in the upcoming federal budget for the year 2017-18.

The main goal is to make digitalization approachable in the under-developed areas of the country and PEMRA will contribute by issuing licenses for the accurate beginning of USF plan.

It is apt to be mentioned that the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has already established a Universal Service Fund where telecom companies contribute 1.5 percent of their whole capital to develop telecom infrastructure and build up in remote and un-served areas of the country.

On Thursday, a budget of Rs 3008.02 million is approved by the National Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting under the Public-Sector Development Program (PSDP) and its attached departments for 2017-18. No matter some members opposed the approval.

These proposals would be passed to Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) for a further scrutinization of the budget and then it would be transferred to Ministry of Planning and Reforms and Finance Division for evaluation and inclusion in the federal budget for the year 2017-18.

 An overview of total revenue was presented in the Standing Committee. It was informed that that Information and Broadcasting Division had demanded allotment of Rs 447.9 million for 12 ongoing projects and Rs 2560.12 million for 28 upcoming projects. The Committee was notified that 12 projects of Pakistan Television and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation are in getting a shape and would be accomplished by the end of the current financial year with the accordance of respectively allocated budget.

Much amendments to be made by the federal government under a specified amount of Rs 335.405 million for the inception and establishment of 22 new projects which comprises the modification of state of the art infrastructure, replacement of old-fashioned equipment and capacity enhancement in the distinct departments which includesPBC, PNCA, PID, APPC, DEMP, ISA and PEMRA among others. But so far, the government assigned Rs 335.405 million for 2016-17 out of which Rs 174 million was released and Rs 114.77 million has been utilized.

Some senior committee member depicted them opines regarding the plan, saying that the delay in the completion of the projects will cause the gross consumption to be elevated by 10 times than the allotted amount.

Absar Alam, chairman PEMRA, demonstrated his perspective that the shift from analog to digitalization would greatly improve broadcasting services in the country. He also added that a software would be developed for the supervision of more than 250 channels. In the meantime, 107 TV channels are operational in the country, however, only 50 are being monitored because new satellite channels are not issued licenses which are another hindrance affecting the revenue generation of the country.

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