ISLAMABAD: The government has no plans to abolish the TV fee of Rs35 that it charges along with the electricity bill, the National Assembly was told early this month.
However, religious institutions and places of worships – mosques, temples, gurdawaras and synagogues – are exempt from this TV fee.
Though parliamentarians are busy giving final touches to the budget for the coming financial year, media also seems to be one of their concerns. A number of interesting issues about media were brought to the floor of the National Assembly during the question hour – from the matters of TV licenses to illegal direct to home (DTH) systems in Pakistan.
PPP legislator Shahida Rehmani wanted to know if TV license fee is being included in electricity bills of mosques and madaras. She also inquired if the government is considering any proposal to abolish this fee.
The minister quoted Clause 6 Section II of the Modified Agreement between Pakistan Electric Power Company and Pakistan Television Corporation Ltd on 30 April 2012. According to the clause, “The customers who got exemption on the claim being religious institutions and places of worships, such as Mosques, Temples, Gurdawaras and Synagogues etc, will continue exempted. This status of exemption will not be changed.”
Minister for Information Pervez Rashid re-emphasized that any religious institution such as “mosques, temples, gurdawaras madarasas and synagogue which have registered as a religious institution, shall remain exempted from levy of domestic TV fee.”
The minister also told the House that PEMRA is not bound to “allocate 30% time for the education of children and 20% time for the social issues on television channels.” According to him, the licensees are allowed to formulate their programming mix as per their license category. He was answering a question by party colleague Tahira Aurangzeb.
Though the matter of smuggling and illegal sale of direct to home (DTH) equipment within the territory of Pakistan does not fall under purview of PEMRA, the minister said the authority has been “rigorously pursuing the matter with various government departments to containing and curbing this menace.”
He was replying to a question by PTI MNA Junaid Akbar who wanted to about more than two million illegal DTH connections functioning in the country.
The minister added PEMRA has emphasized the need to move decisively against the violators as the proliferation of illegal DTH is weakening the case of launching DTH in Pakistan, resulting in huge revenue loss to the exchequer. “It (PEMRA) expects that the matter would get the priority it deserves and the departments/agencies concerned would realize their responsibilities in this regard.”