A broadcaster/producer in addition to broadcasting license can also acquire a distribution license: Pakistan Supreme Court

Pakistan Supreme Court: The bidders who were successful in winning the bid challenged the impugned order passed by High Court, Lahore before a 5-Judge Bench of Supreme Court comprising of Mian Saqib Nisar, HCJ., SH. Azmat Saeed, Umar Ata Bandial, Ijaz Ul Ahsan, and Sajjad Ali Shah, JJ., whereby Rules 13 (3) and (4) of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Rules, 2009 were declared ultra vires of the parent Act, i.e., Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2002 (PEMRA Ordinance) due to which the entire bidding process was in question.

The brief process involved with broadcasting is that the producers of program sell the program to DTH distributors who then directly beam these programs to the consumers. So, the question before Court was whether the producers/broadcasters of these programs can be excluded from bidding for the DTH licenses by virtue of PEMRA ordinance. Petitioner submitted that High Court erred while interpreting Section 23(2) of the PREMRA Ordinance on the basis of which Rules 13 (3) and (4) was declared ultra vires as nowhere broadcasters/producers participation is stopped from bidding for DTH licences and to the contrary it promotes objectives of Ordinance by enlarging the choice given to people. It was contended that in accordance with this purpose if broadcasters are also involved in distribution, the purpose will be destroyed.

Perusing the contentions, the Court was of the view that the interpretation of the proviso of Section 23 cannot be sustained as the approach used by the courts is not literal interpretation of the law but its purposive interpretation. It would be healthy for the competition if a broadcaster is having both licenses of broadcasting and distribution. Therefore, impugned judgment was set aside. [MAG Entertainment (P) Ltd. v. Independent Newspapers Corporation (P) Ltd., C.A.700 of 2017, 08-05-2018]

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