The auction of three licences for direct-to-home (DTH) programming successfully concluded on Thursday with the pledged sums reaching the Rs14.69 billion mark, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) announced.

The successful bidders will be issued licences after clearance from the interior ministry and security institutions.

The provisional successful bidders for the three licences as declared by Pemra are:

  • Licence 1

    MAG Entertainment Pvt Ltd (Lahore)
    Licence fee: Rs4,898 million

  • Licence 2

    StarTimes Pakistan Communi­ca­tions Pvt Ltd (Islamabad)
    Licence fee: Rs4,898 million

  • Licence 3

    Shahzad Sky Pvt Ltd (Islamabad)
    Licence fee: Rs4,898 million

“Media has entered a new era after the auction of DTH licences,” Pemra Chairman Absar Alam said after the bidding ended.

Successful bidders will be required to submit 15 per cent of the licence fee in first installment, 35pc in the second installment and rest of the fee in third installment.

The auction was held after the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead to Pemra to proceed with it but barred the authority from awarding the contract.

Bidding began around 1pm on Wednesday from the Rs200 million mark and concluded after 15 hours.

The sealed bids were opened and announced in front of all bidders, mediapersons and various stakeholders present there.

Among the 12 short-listed companies, 11 participated in the bidding process, while Maestro Media Distribution of Lahore pulled out of the auction.

Those who pooled their bids included: HB DTH Pvt Ltd (Islamabad), IQ Communications Pvt Ltd (Karachi), MAG Entertainment Pvt Ltd (Lahore), Naya Tel Pvt Ltd (Islamabad), Orient Electronics Pvt Ltd (Lahore), Sardar Builders Pvt Ltd (Islamabad), Shazad Sky Pvt Ltd (Islamabad), Skyflix Pvt Ltd (Islamabad) and Smart Sky Pvt Ltd (Islamabad).

Two of the companies in the auction have foreign parent companies: Parus Media and Broadcast Pvt Ltd (Islamabad) is a concern of a Russian parent company.

The StarTimes Pakistan Communi­ca­tions Pvt Ltd (Islamabad) is a subsidiary of Star Times China, which already operates DTH networks in 16 African countries.

Contrary to predictions by Pemra officials that the DTH bidding would reach the Rs1.5 billion mark for each licence, the race triggered between MAG Entertainment, IQ Communica­tions, Sardar Builders, Orient Electronics and Shazad Sky Pvt Ltd took the numbers way beyond their expectations.

The bidding is the first step towards the launch of DTH services in Pakistan. Incidentally, all South Asian countries, including Afghanis­tan, already have DTH services.

DTH is a digital box that provides channels permitted to be aired in the country to customers without any cable connection.