The cable operators are running the show with limited resources and are looking for the government’s help, says a cable operator Mian Amir Masood
Vice Chairman of Lahore Cable Operators Association, Mian Amir Masood is in the cable service for the last six years and runs Esquire Cable – extending from Gulshan Ravi to the Walled City. He said:
"It’s a cut throat competition and we have survived by giving maximum entertainment with the least possible rates – from free to Rs 100 – and provide quality service at its best. Presently, almost all the cable operators have to start with free service. I relay four in-house channels – each to Indian and Pakistani films, songs and stage dramas.
"Our business is demarcated by the viewers. Many a time, we have to play viewers-choice films, obviously, not falling beyond the purview of morals and ethics of the society. Especially our young generation, both genders, call us for the movies of their choice. For Movies on Demand (MoD), we have a contract with the PTCL and we share the profit. On the other hand, most of the MoD are new films; hence the copyright violations are there. In order to take an edge in the market, especially in an open competition, we have to relay new movies.
"Most of the cable operators are careful about the stuff, but many loopholders do indulge in nefarious activities of transmitting pornography. As the PEMRA is planning to bring them within the law through licencing, one can hope this will curtail them as well. However, none of the cable operators want to relay a movie, which is either against the country or is flashy in its content. For instance, an anti-Pakistan Indian movie ‘Border’ is never in our MoD list. We even go to the extent of blocking the transmission of international TV channels when they play such movies and programmes.
"We do get ads, but those are mostly local ones, that is, educational institutions and medical facilities, etc. I think we are justified in getting those ads because in this competitive environment, one has to look for some subsidiary ways to increment one’s earning. Look at the cost of getting decoded channels, which are very popular among masses. We have to pay them as well. Interestingly, we have to purchase channel services in full – called ‘bouquets’. This is what we have to do within our limited resources. If the government closes some channels – the Indian channels especially – our business is adversely affected. Frankly, we don’t want Indian channels, but prior to this, we need to develop our own channels. It is hoped that when Pakistan has a variety of channels, demand for the Indian ones will wane."