Pakistan's Media and Telecom Boom Continuing

Pakistan's media and telecom revolution that began during the Musharaf years is continuing unabated.

In addition to financial services, the two key service sectors with explosive growth in last decade (1999-2009) in Pakistan include media and telecom, both of which have helped create jobs and empowered women.

Pakistan is among the five most dynamic economies of developing Asia in terms of increased penetration of mobile phones, internet and broadband, according to the Information Economy Report, 2009 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad). Among the five countries in terms of mobile penetration in South Asia, Pakistan is placed at number three followed by Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Iran and Maldives are ranked above Pakistan.

In the area of internet penetration, Pakistan is placed third and for broadband penetration the country is ranked fourth.



The report sees the mobile industry as a ‘cash cow’ in some countries noting that Pakistan was experiencing significant macroeconomic problems, yet the mobile market steams ahead as the effects of the global economic recession on the global mobile network are so far limited.

With an increase of 38% over 2008, the television advertising revenue for 2009 in Pakistan was Rs 16.4 billion ((US $200m), accounting for about half of the total ad market during the year. The TV ad revenue is continuing to rise as a percentage of total ad revenue, mostly at the expense of the print media ads. The biggest spenders in 2009 were the telecom companies with Rs 8 billion, followed closely by fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector with Rs. 7 billion, as reported by Pakistan's GeoTV channel. FMCG products, as opposed to consumer durables such as home appliances, are generally low cost and replaced or fully used up over a short period of days, weeks, or months, and within one year. Other important sectors contributing to ad revenue are financial services and real estate, but these sectors have experienced significant slowdown with the current economic slump.

According to Daily Times, Chairman Mushtaq Malik of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has said that the cable television sector “is the fast growing segment among the electronic media ventures”. In the first 100 days of the current government, he has claimed that new licenses for 16 satellite TV channels, 10 FM radio stations, and 232 cable TV channels have been granted. It is anticipated that this would lead to additional investment worth Rs. 2.5 billion, generating 4000 additional jobs in this sector. The cable television sector alone is employing some 30,000 people in the country.

APP reported that overall size of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Pakistan has crossed more than $ 12 billion, of which $ 1 billion is foreign direct investment (FDI). This was asserted by the Adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister on Information Technology Sardar Latif Khan Khosa while speaking at the inauguration of 5th Information & Communications Technology Exhibition and Conference - CONNECT 2010 at Karachi Expo Center.

He said Pakistan has one of the fastest growing the tele-density in the world, currently at 63.5 percent, while neighboring India is just 37 percent.

Khosa said there are more than 95 million mobile connections in the country and are still growing in numbers. This is exponential growth as mobile telephone market has seen a 14-fold increase since the year 2000, he added.

A pilot program in Pakistan has demonstrated the effectiveness of pushing mass literacy through the use of cell phone text messaging capability. The five-month experiment, initiated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), targeted 250 females aged 15 to 24 years old in three districts of Pakistan's Punjab province. In this pilot project which successfully concluded last month, the participant who have just completed the basic literacy course, were given a mobile phone each. They received three text messages a day in the local language. They were required to practice reading and writing the messages in their work book and reply to their teachers by text.

Here's a recent IEMR research report forecasting 135 million mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan by 2014:

"The wireless penetration rate is still low in Pakistan at approximately 60% in 2009, and we expect that the country's wireless market will continue to show strong growth. Our model forecasts that total mobile subscribers in Pakistan will increase from 96 million in 2009 to 134.8 million in 2014," said Nizar Assanie, Vice President (Research) at IEMR. "Mobilink will continue to be the largest player in Pakistan's mobile operator space over the next five years. We expect that Mobilink will have 36 million mobile subscribers in 2014. Also, given the latest quarter numbers, our model predicts that Ufone will have 25.8 million, Telenor will have 29 million, and Warid will have 25.3 million mobile subscribers by the end of 2014." "ARPU levels remain low in Pakistan's mobile operator space. We expect that the industry average ARPU will remain in the range of US$ 2 - US$ 3 over the next five years. Our model predicts that, in 2014, Mobilink's monthly ARPU will be at highest among operators at US$ 2.64. The operator with the lowest monthly ARPU will be Warid Telecom with US$ 1.67 in 2014," said Mr. Assanie.

IEMR's Pakistan Mobile Operator Forecast covers up to 50 financial and operational metrics on wireless operators in Pakistan - Mobilink (Pakistan Mobile Communications Limited), Ufone GSM, China Mobile Ltd. (Zong, formerly Paktel), Instaphone, Telenor ASA, and Warid Telecom International. Notable highlights of the 1Q10 Pakistan Mobile Operator Forecast include: * In terms of shares of total subscribers, we expect that Mobilink's market share will decline over the next five years, from 30% in 2009 to 26.7% in 2014. On the other hand, we expect China Mobile Pakistan's market share to increase from 8% in 2009 to 13.7% in 2014. We also forecast that market shares at Ufone, Telenor, and Warid will be approximately 19.2%, 21.6% and 18.8% respectively in 2014.

* Given the excellent performance by Norway's Telenor in Pakistan's wireless market in the recent past, our model forecasts that its EBITDA margin (calculated as EBITDA / reported revenue) will be increasing from about 23% in 2009 to 35% in 2014. On the other hand, we think that Mobilink will maintain its EBITDA margin of approximately 35% over the forecast period, 2010 - 2014.


Here's a video titled "I Am Pakistan":



Related Links:

Poverty Reduction Through Telecom Access

Pakistan's Telecom Boom

Pakistan Tops Text Message Growth

WiMax Rollout in Pakistan

Mobile Internet in Pakistan

Low Literacy Threatens Pakistan's Future

Gender Gap in South Asia

Mobil e Financial Services in Pakistan

Financial Services in Pakistan

Distance Learning in Pakistan

Top 5 ICT4D Trends in 2010

ICT4D in Pakistani Hospital

ITCN Asia 2010 Conference in Karachi

State of Telecom Industry in Pakistan

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
“Media Subdues The Public. It’s So In India, Certainly”, says Noam Chomsky, Prof Emeritus of Linguistics and Media a MIT.

Here are a few quotes from an Outlook India interview with Noam Chomsky:

"I spent three weeks in India and a week in Pakistan. A friend of mine here, Iqbal Ahmed, told me that I would be surprised to find that the media in Pakistan is more open, free and vibrant than that in India.

In Pakistan, I read the English language media which go to a tiny part of the population. Apparently, the government, no matter how repressive it is, is willing to say to them that you have your fun, we are not going to bother you. So they don’t interfere with it.

The media in India is free, the government doesn’t have the power to control it. But what I saw was that it was pretty restricted, very narrow and provincial and not very informative, leaving out lots of things. What I saw was a small sample. There are very good things in the Indian media, specially the Hindu and a couple of others. But this picture (in India) doesn’t surprise me. In fact, the media situation is not very different in many other countries. The Mexican situation is unusual. La Jornada is the only independent newspaper in the whole hemisphere."

"As soon as the plan to invade Iraq was announced, the media began serving as a propaganda agency for the government. The same was true for Vietnam, for state violence generally. The media is called liberal because it is liberal in the sense that Obama is. For example, he’s considered as the principled critic of the Iraq war. Why? Because, right at the beginning, he said it was a strategic blunder. That’s the extent of his liberalism. You could read such comments in Pravda in 1985. The people said that the invasion of Afghanistan was a strategic blunder. Even the German general staff said that Stalingrad was a strategic blunder. But we don’t call that principled criticism."

"Perhaps the period of greatest real press freedom was in the more free societies of Britain and the US in the late 19th century. There was a great variety of newspapers, most often run by the factory workers, ethnic communities and others. There was a lot of popular involvement. These papers reflected a wide variety of opinions, were widely read too. It was the period of greatest vibrancy in the US. There were efforts, especially in England, to control and censor it. These didn’t work. But two things pretty much eliminated them. One, it was possible for the corporate sector to simply put so much capital into their own newspapers that others couldn’t compete. The other factor was advertising; advertiser-reliance. Advertisers are businesses. When newspapers become dependent on advertisers for their income, they are naturally going to bend to the interest of advertisers.

If you look at the New York Times, maybe the world’s greatest newspaper, they have the concept of news hole. What that means is that in the afternoon when they plan for the following day’s newspaper, the first thing they do is to layout where the advertising is going to be, because that’s an important part of a newspaper. You then put the news in the gaps between advertisements. In television there is a concept called content and fill. The content is the advertising, the fill is car chase, the sexy or whatever you put in to try to keep the viewer watching in between the ads. That’s a natural outcome when you have advertiser-reliance."
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan PTCL has recieved consumer choice award for its EVO 3G service, according to Pak Observer:

Karachi—Pakistan Telecommunication Company LTD (PTCL) has won Best Consumer Choice Award 2010 for its product “EVO”, that is the fastest wireless broadband service with the widest coverage, in over 100 cities of the Pakistan. Pakistani consumers have chosen EVO a world class and exclusive device as a recipient of, Consumers Choice Award in the category of Best Wireless Broadband. Federal Minister Makhdoom Amin Faheem presented the shield to SEVP South Abdullah Youseff. The Consumers Choice Award is celebrating its 6th successful year in the country and has become the most recognized and prestigious event of the country’s business calendar.

PTCL has always laid special focus on delivering the best to its customers by providing the most affordable means of communication and a truly reliable and technology wise superior network. With the substantial market share, loyal subscriber base and the recognition as the only integrated telecommunications service provider, PTCL continues to set excellence benchmarks in the Telecom Industry of Pakistan. The commercial launch of EVO Nitro 3G offering speed upto 9.3 mbps,which is unexampled and one and the only fastest and most widely available wireless service in Pakistan that meets needs of the next generation for ultimate speed along with superior, matchless and extraordinary performance.

PTCL President and CEO - Walid Irshaid while acknowledging this achievement, highlighted pragmatic approach of PTCL and stated that PTCL understands the changing dynamics of the telecommunication sector and is working towards foreseeing our customer’s needs and fulfilling them. The selection of EVO in the category of Best Wireless Broadband in Consumer Choice Award for ‘2010’ is an acknowledgement of that. EVO 3G Wireless Broadband is Pakistan’s fastest on the double wireless internet offering its customers superior, venerable, advanced and a cutting edge 3G internet experience with its unprecedented speed. It has revolutionized the three simple steps just plug in-click-connect of wireless connectivity for our valued customers. Pakistan is the first country in the world of telecommunication to commercially launch EVO 3G Nitro, the fastest wireless broadband with seamless roaming having speed up to 9.3mbps.
Riaz Haq said…
There are over a million broadband subscribers in Pakistan, according to PTCL:

Pakistani Internet Service Providers crossed one million mark for broadband internet subscribers in the country by totaling 1.052 million broadband subscribers in October 2010, up from 994,911 subscribers in September 2010, according to the recent most data provided by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

DSL companies added the most subscribers for broadband and stood at 516,167 subscribers in October 2010, up from 488,946 in September 2010.

EvDO service providers added a total of 15,540 subscribers in one month, while WiMAX companies added a total of 14,066 subscribers in the month. Total number of WiMAX subscribers in the country has hit 306,665 mark, up from 292,599 a month ago.

DSL remains the top technology used for broadband internet in the country, while WiMAX stands seconds. EvDO is swiftly adding its share for the broadband subscribers.

HFC and FTTH remains the lowest adding subscribers technologies in the country.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from a Wired.com report on how Pakistani techies are helped in the flood-relief effort:

One of the biggest problems in flood relief is locating people displaced by the flood who need food, shelter or medicine. So Sohaib Khan, a computer-science professor at the Lahore University of Management Scientists, put together a widget to help. Floodmaps relies on Google Earth and Google Maps to track the path of the flood and monitor devastation like washed-out bridges that need to be rebuilt. His maps page provides detailed views of over 9000 villages affected by the downpour, broken down by region.

The primary customer for Khan’s maps are non-governmental organizations at work in Pakistan. “Our goal is to get as much data out there as possible,” he says. “We are now working with other NGOs to help them with their mapping needs, both for the current phase as well as planning for the upcoming rehabilitation phase.” But it’s not just independent aid groups that have made use of Floodmaps. The Punjab government’s detailed flood-relief website runs Floodmaps on its mapping page.

Khan’s website makes it easy to get one of his widgets: Just file a request through a provided form and receive a Floodmap. But that’s about as far as his efforts go in terms of social media. The maps themselves track data provided by affiliated aid groups about broken dams, damaged roads and other affected infrastructure. But those groups — or citizens themselves — can’t adjust the maps themselves. “We have not yet really exploited crowdsourcing,” Khan says.


That falls to a group called PakReport, an impromptu collection of Pakistani technologists and their mostly-American academic friends. PakReport is a donor-supported SMS effort that allows people affected by the flood to send in their location and a message about their need. Using a mapping tool called Ushahidi, flood-stricken Pakistanis can find their emergency information tracked by type and location, giving official and independent aid agencies a view into the evolving landscape of people’s needs. Text to 3441 and help create a distributed database of crisis information.
Riaz Haq said…
Sesame Street is launching an adaptation of its children's tv show produced in Urdu for Pakistani audience, according to the Guardian newspaper.

There's no Cookie Monster, no Big Bird and no Count von Count.

But Pakistani children will soon start experiencing what millions in the west have done for more than four decades – the joys of Sesame Street.

In a $20m (£12m) remake of the classic American children's programme, the setting for the show has moved from the streets of New York to a lively village in Pakistan with a roadside tea and snacks stall, known as a dhaba, some fancy houses with overhanging balconies along with simple dwellings, and residents hanging out on their verandas.

The Pakistani version, in which characters will speak mostly in Urdu, will feature Rani, a cute six-year-old Muppet, the child of a peasant farmer, with pigtails, flowers in her hair and a smart blue-and-white school uniform. Her curiosity and questions about the world will, it is hoped, make her a role model for Pakistani children.


Sesame Street International already co-produces 18 localized version, including those in Bangladesh and India, and reaches millions of children in 120 nations around the world.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. (PTCL) is to implement VDSL2 bonding technology to deliver speeds of up to 50 Mbps to its existing DSL subscriber base, using solutions from Alcatel-Lucent, according to Broadband World Forum:

Alcatel-Lucent is to provide PTCL with its Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) IP access platform, as well as its bonding-ready customer premises equipment (CPE).

Alcatel-Lucent will also serve as the project's master network integrator, and will provide a range of professional services, including project management, installation and commissioning, integration and technical support.

VDSL2 bonding works by taking two copper-based VDSL2 lines per subscriber and aggregating them, thereby almost doubling the bandwidth available to existing customers.
Riaz Haq said…
PTCL and Alcatel-Lucent are launching 50Mbs service in Pakistan, according to Daily Times:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and Alcatel-Lucent in a joint press conference held on Friday announced the launch of VDSL2 Bonding technology for the first time in Pakistan pioneering the commercial use of this technology in the telecom industry globally.

PTCL will be the first service provider to deploy a commercial VDSL2 Bonding solution, showing “our commitment to take the broadband service experience in Pakistan to the next level.”

PTCL will be using VDSL2 Bonding technology to provide existing digital subscriber line (DSL) customers with speeds up to 50 Mbps. The project leverages Alcatel-Lucent’s (Euro next Paris and NYSE: ALU) VDSL2 Bonding expertise and will be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2011.

VDSL2 Bonding takes two copper-based VDSL2 lines per subscriber and aggregates them—almost doubling the bandwidths available to existing customers, or expanding high-speed broadband access to areas that are underserved today. Using VDSL2 Bonding, service providers can extend the life of their existing copper infrastructure - supporting the delivery of bandwidth-intensive services such as triple-play voice, data and HDTV.

According to a recent study from market research firm IHS iSuppli, simultaneous access to applications such as peer-to-peer file sharing, online gaming, streaming audio, VoIP and IPTV will soon require bandwidths between 50 and 100Mbps. This fits exactly with VDSL2’s capabilities—especially when combined with innovations such as Bonding and Vectoring.

Commenting on this achievement, Walid Irshaid, President and CEO of PTCL stated “PTCL is the first service provider worldwide to deploy a commercial VDSL2 Bonding solution that aims at doubling the bandwidths provided to its existing customers. We are thus setting the trend in international telecom, and are taking the broadband experience in Pakistan to the next level. Alcatel-Lucent’s VDSL2 Bonding technology and comprehensive services and network integration expertise is helping us to keep pace with the increasing bandwidth requirements of our customers, while capitalizing on the existing copper infrastructure. This will enable us to quickly deliver high-quality, high-speed and high-availability business and residential services – even in areas where it was not possible before.”

Alcatel-Lucent is providing PTCL with its Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) IP access platform – which is the first platform to commercially support VDSL2 Bonding. Alcatel-Lucent will also supply Bonding-ready customer premises equipment (CPE). Alcatel-Lucent serves as the project’s master network integrator, and is providing a range of professional services – including project management, installation and commissioning, integration and technical support.

“We understand that service providers need the right tools to bridge the gap until fiber deployments become ubiquitous. VDSL2 Bonding is an ideal approach: service providers like PTCL can almost double the speeds supported by their DSL infrastructure or expand their network’s reach. This makes it a fast and cost-effective approach to bridging the digital divide,” said Aadil Rauf CEO Alcatel-Lucent.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Business Monitor Inc (BMI) forecast for Pakistan's telecom services:

The number of mobile subscribers in Pakistan reached the 100mn mark in September 2010 and is expected to continue its growth momentum due to the relatively low penetration rate. In this quarter, BMI has adjusted our mobile forecasts and we forecast 136.078mn subscribers in Pakistan by end-2015, representing a penetration rate of 70.3%.
We could see the launch of commercial 3G services in 2011 after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority announced plans to submit its proposal to the government. We will revisit our forecasts for the number of 3G and mobile subscribers in the country when the plan is successfully implemented and details of the licence are revealed.
Pakistan’s broadband subscriber base reached 1.053mn in October 2010, an increase of 63.5% from the 643,892 in December 2009. While DSL remained the main technology used to access broadband services in the country, alternative wireless solutions WiMAX and EV-DO are catching up fast. The number of DSL users grew by 96.5% from 262,661 in June 2009. By contrast, subscriber figures of WiMAX and EV-DO increased by 246.6% and 708.5% over the same period to reach 306,665 and 181,947 respectively. The popularity of mobile broadband services is likely due to more affordable pricing plans bundled with low-cost mobile devices. Moreover, two-thirds of the population reside in rural areas where fixed-line infrastructure remains poor and wireless broadband service therefore becomes an attractive and relatively cheaper method to bring connectivity to the underserved regions.
Pakistan continued its decline on BMI’s Business Environment Ratings for the Asia-Pacific region. Although the country scored relatively well on the Industry Rewards and Risks segment, we note the country faces significant downside pressure on the macroeconomic front. While we upgraded the country’s headline growth forecast figure to 1.5% for FY2010/11 (July-June), we remain cautious as industrial activity continues to contract and rising lending rates hold back activity. Over the medium term, the country' s economic prospects remain bleak as the lack of domestic resources hampers recovery and reconstruction. Moreover, the country is at risk of experiencing years of instability and militant activity. Pakistan fell to 11th position from 10th position in BMI’s latest Business Environment Ratings in Q111 due to a decrease in the country’s Industry Rewards score, which dropped to 55.0 from 60.0 in the previous quarter. BMI’s own damage assessment suggests that the country will struggle to generate any meaningful real GDP growth in FY10/11 (July-June). Even after the clean-up operations are complete, we are unlikely to witness a return to the days of plus-5% economic growth (last seen between 2002 and 2007), as the government' s poor fiscal health and a protracted internal struggle against extremist elements weigh heavily on private sector demand. We believe that Pakistan' s business environment will remain highly challenging, with the shaky security situation and a dire energy shortage continuing to weigh on economic activity, particularly much-needed investment.
Riaz Haq said…
Considering all the massive negative propaganda in the Indian and western media about Pakistan, it is interesting to see that some Americans are noticing the 50 Mbps broadband access build-out in the "failed state" of Pakistan by a state-owned telephone company.

In a provocatively titled post "Osama bin Laden Getting Faster Internet Than You Have: Pakistan’s 50Mbps Future", an American blogger Philip Dampier complains as follows: "While America’s heartland is being wired for 3Mbps DSL service, residents in Pakistan are getting ready for speeds up to 50Mbps thanks to a major broadband expansion in the country".
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s imports of mobile handsets have swelled to reach Rs 33.5 billion during the July 2010 to March 2011 period, according to The Express Tribune:

According to figures released by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS), mobile handset sales increased to Rs 33.5 billion ($392 million) from July 2010 to March 2011 as opposed to Rs 18 billion in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year, showing a growth of 85 per cent in the third quarter of the current fiscal year.

On an average, imports worth Rs 3.72 billion were carried out every month in the period under-review. Handset imports in the month of March were recorded at Rs. 4.75 billion ($55.76 million), up 48 per cent from last year.

The sale of handsets increased to more than 9 million in the said period if average monthly sales are evaluated at 1 million in the nine months in accordance with data shared by market experts.

As per estimate, if 1 million handsets having an average cost of Rs 4,000 are sold every month, it translates into Rs 4 billion overall sales. Therefore imports and sales costs are almost the same.

The little difference in numbers of imports and sales figures shows the high demanding trend in the local market owing to change of technology and introduction of new designs of handsets.

Market experts said that more than 60 per cent of the market consists of handsets falling in the Rs 4,000 to Rs 9,000 price range. Pakistan’s market has a solid demand of high cost handsets that exceeds the Rs 50,000 benchmark.

Imports and sales are constituted of more than 70 per cent Chinese-made handsets whereas different brands such as Nokia, Sony Ericson, LG and Samsung have retained their 25 -30 percent share in the local markets.

Importers and dealers forecast that import and sales may be affected as the telecom authority has come up with strict regulations, which could slow down the inflow of Chinese-made handsets in the local markets.

Sales of Chinese brands with International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) are also expected to increase in the coming months.
Riaz Haq said…
Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the govt to restore Geo Super's satellite license immediately.

Having lost the court battle, the PPP govt and PEMRA are now likely to respond by encouraging significant competition in sports coverage by giving terrestrial transmission licenses to Geo's competitors to hurt Geo's profits.

It'll be a good outcome for consumers and advertisers alike. It will give them more choices in sports media space. It'll improve and increase sports coverage overall...and encourage more youths to participate in athletics and sports.
Riaz Haq said…
According the LIRNEasia’s 2011 Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) survey, stakeholders in India, Pakistan and Indonesia have identified the telecom regulatory environments in their countries as improved since 2008, the last time the survey was carried out. In contrast, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines have seen the regulatory environments decline in effectiveness, while Thailandremains more-or-less the same.

The TRE Survey asks senior level stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of the telecom regulatory environment in the fixed, mobile and broadband subsectors along a Lickert scale of 1 to 5 (1 being highly ineffective and 5 being highly effective, with the mid-point of 3 being considered average performance). Seven different dimensions of regulation (market entry, tariff regulation, interconnection, universal service, anti-competitive-practices, quality of service) are evaluated by the stakeholders. This year, 349 responded participated in the 7 countries.

Within a country, scores for each of the dimensions reflect specific issues: for example, in India, the lowest score (of 2.3 out of 5) was received by the Access to Scarce Resources dimension in the mobile-sub-sector. This is perhaps not surprising given the 2G scandals in India. However, India did finally get around to allocating 3G spectrum in 2010, and did so by having its first ever spectrum auctions. Perhaps because of this, or because stakeholders believe that that the 2G scandal has finally paved way for transparency in allocation, the score of 2.3 this year is still an improvement, though marginal, over the 2008 score of 2.2. India’s USD 4 billion+ undisbursed Universal Service Fund and related policies are responsible for its biggest TRE score decline: the TRE for USO drops from 3.1 in 2008 to 2.4 this year. In contrast, tariff regulation in the mobile sub-sector continues to be the top performer with a score of 3.9 out of 5.0, indicating stakeholder satisfaction at TRAI’s policy of forbearance which has enabled Indian consumers to enjoy extremely low prices thanks to competitive forces.

Pakistan saw an increased in almost all dimensions, with the exception of 3 (fixed market entry, mobile access to scarce resources and mobile interconnection) which showed minor declines. In contrast, Bangladesh saw scores in all seven fixed-subsector dimensions decline, in some cases by as much as 1 point. The scores are perhaps reflective of the issues related to the cancellation of several fixed licenses. Overall only seven dimensions showed improvements in Bangladesh, and even these were marginal. Thailand, whose overall performance is unchanged, has however seen significant declines in its Market Entry scores due the uncertainties caused by the concession contracts granted to the mobile operators and what their status would be when they expire starting next year.

http://lirneasia.net/2011/07/india-pakistan-and-indonesia-have-improved-telecom-regulatory-environments-since-2008-according-to-stakeholders/
Riaz Haq said…
Mobile handset sales reach a million a month in Pakistan, according a report in The Nation:

ISLAMABAD (APP)– Development of Telecom sector has also surged the sale of mobile handsets in Pakistan, which reaches around 1 million per month.
There is flood of different mobile handsets in the market, especially Chinese sets are the most favourite as they are available in latest features and designs and the price is also within the range of everyone.
This figure clearly shows how much our nation has the craze for new mobile sets. Hiba, a student of third year in COMSATS, said “ Usually I spend my pocket money on buying mobile sets, as soon as a new model comes in the market”.
The second copy of branded cellphones has made its way in the domestic market along with unique features of dual SIM system. According to a dealer at Gulzar-e-Quaid Market Rawalpindi, the Chinese cellphones of different brands are available from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 12,000, depending on variety and quality.
He said the number of Chinese brands s more than 50, which are usually imported but there are some 15 brands that have captured the local markets.
No doubt, Chinese made handsets are cheap and have numerous features which attract customers posthastly, he maintained.
Another dealer at Blue Area said, normally people are attracted by the handsets, which cost between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000 and have features of branded mobile sets costing Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 40,000.
He said people ask for the sets which have better quality camera along with sharp memory. The mobile sets appeal to the masses who cannot buy Rs 30,000 original brand of iPhone but they can afford Chinese made Iphone in just Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 only with one year warranty.
Sale of mobile sets remains the same, no matter the economy is in shambles. The ratio of mobile subscribers have reached around 100 million in Pakistan, which is a clear manifestation of telecom development in the country.


http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Business/03-Oct-2011/Mobile-sets-sale-reaches--1m-per-month
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Bloomberg report on rising consumer spending and growing FMCG sector in Pakistan:

...“The rural push is aimed at the boisterous youth in these areas, who have bountiful cash and resources to increase purchases,” Shazia Syed, vice president for customer development at Unilever Pakistan Ltd., said in an interview. “Rural growth is more than double that of national sales.”
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Nestle Pakistan Ltd., which is spending 300 million Swiss francs ($330 million) to double dairy output in four years, boosted sales 29 percent to 33 billion rupees ($377 million) in the six months through June.

“We have been focusing on rural areas very strongly,” Ian Donald, managing director of Nestle’s Pakistan unit, said in an interview in Lahore. “Our observation is that Pakistan’s rural economy is doing better than urban areas.”

The parent, based in Vevey, Switzerland, aims to get 45 percent of revenue from emerging markets by 2020.
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Haji Mirbar, who grows cotton on a 5-acre farm with his four brothers, said his family’s income grew fivefold in the year through June, allowing him to buy branded products. He uses Unilever’s Lifebuoy for his open-air baths under a hand pump, instead of the handmade soap he used before.
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Sales for the Pakistan unit of Unilever rose 15 percent to 24.8 billion rupees in the first half. Colgate-Palmolive Pakistan Ltd.’s sales increased 29 percent in the six months through June to 7.6 billion rupees, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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Unilever is pushing beauty products in the countryside through a program called “Guddi Baji,” an Urdu phrase that literally means “doll sister.” It employs “beauty specialists who understand rural women,” providing them with vans filled with samples and equipment, Syed said. Women in villages are also employed as sales representatives, because “rural is the growth engine” for Unilever in Pakistan, she said.

While the bulk of spending for rural families goes to food, about 20 percent “is spent on looking beautiful and buying expensive clothes,” Syed said.

Colgate-Palmolive, the world’s largest toothpaste maker, aims to address a “huge gap” in sales outside Pakistan’s cities by more than tripling the number of villages where its products, such as Palmolive soap, are sold, from the current 5,000, said Syed Wasif Ali, rural operations manager at the local unit.
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Unilever plans to increase the number of villages where its products are sold to almost half of the total 34,000 within three years. Its merchandise, including Dove shampoo, Surf detergent and Brooke Bond Supreme tea, is available in about 11,000 villages now.
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Pakistan, Asia’s third-largest wheat grower, in 2008 increased wheat prices by more than 50 percent as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sought to boost production of the staple.

“The injection of purchasing power in the rural sector has been unprecedented,” said Sherani, who added that local prices for rice and sugarcane have also risen.
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Increasing consumption in rural areas is forecast to drive economic growth in the South Asian country of 177 million people, according to government estimates.

Higher crop prices boosted farmers’ incomes in Pakistan by 342 billion rupees in the 12 months through June, according to a government economic survey. That was higher than the gain of 329 billion rupees in the preceding eight years.
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Telenor Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. is also expanding in Pakistan’s rural areas, which already contribute 60 percent of sales, said Anjum Nida Rahman, corporate communications director for the local unit of the Nordic region’s largest phone company.
Riaz Haq said…
Radio Pakistan has archived a treasure trove of 3.5 million minutes of its broadcast, including historic speeches and interviews of national leaders, that are now available on the internet, according to Pakistan Today:

Broadcast transmissions of Radio Pakistan could be accessed via the internet and mobile streaming throughout the world and all past archives would be available on Youtube. The websites are available both in Urdu and English languages but they also give access to different programmes in 22 regional languages. The director general of the PBC said the new web portal, mobile streaming, video streaming and the Youtube project were aimed at connect the country’s youth to Radio Pakistan, which had been the most reliable medium of information. The new website www.radio.gov.pk is a dynamic site and all data is linked to Twitter and Facebook, Solangi said.
The new website was developed by the staff of the Radio Pakistan without any external funding and technical help. The website has a separate page for the programme side that contains online access to different programmes. The website covers sports, business, showbiz, and daily weather reports. The website also provides links to FM 101, FM 93, PLANET 94, FM 93 and some of the regional stations. The site could be accessed via cell-phone as well.
The archives include speeches of the foreign heads of state, speeches of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-i-Millat Liaqat Ali Khan, Mather-i-Millat Fatima Jinnah, Zulifkar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhuttoo, dramas and documentaries.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/07/radio-pakistan-goes-online/

http://www.radio.gov.pk/newsdetail-1386
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune report tiled "Nokia Sees Pakistan Becoming a High-Growth Market":

KARACHI: Foreign delegates and local entrepreneurs discussed challenges facing businesses, sought greater industry-academia collaboration and highlighted business models to succeed in an emerging market at the 12th Management Association of Pakistan (MAP) Convention on Leadership Challenges for Business Success here on Wednesday.

Emerging markets will account for 80% of the world’s growth the next decade and Pakistan will be an important emerging market in future, Senior Vice President of Nokia India, Middle East and Africa Shivakumar said in a speech titled “Winning in emerging markets”.

Speaking to a conference packed with businessmen, Shivakumar – who is also the senior vice president of All India Management Association (AIMA) – said growth in developed economies has slowed down dramatically and the world is now looking at emerging markets, which account for 42% of population and 13% of income.

Pakistan is listed in four categories of emerging markets including Dow Jones 35 and emerging and growth level economies (EAGLES), he said. “Pakistan will be an important high-growth emerging market.”

In order to succeed in an emerging economy, he said, it is important to understand its segments and consumers. The emerging market consumers – most of whom live under $2 a day – are value-sensitive and not price-sensitive, he said and added entrepreneurs have to work on their business models to accommodate that segment of consumers who believe in the doctrine of “pay more, get more” and “pay less, get less”.

Sharing his experiences, he said, there are three things that he applied and succeeded. “Always put the country’s interest first, keep fixed costs very low and turn as many cost variables as possible,” he said.

“Never cut the features and offer your product at half the price. Consumers don’t want an incomplete product.”

Speaking to the participants earlier on, event’s chief guest and State Bank of Pakistan Governor Yaseen Anwar said it is time for all business leaders and managers to take the lead. Leaders must be more aware of the challenges facing the country – inflation, unemployment and power crisis.

There are no shortcuts to sustained economic development, Anwar said. “We need to develop the right strategies and then translate these strategies into action.”

AIMA President Rajiv Vastupal also addressed the event, saying IMF has lowered growth projection for both 2011 and 2012. “Today’s corporate leaders must focus on innovation to counter the global economic challenges,” he said. He elaborated the successful example of Apple’s iPad, which was launched during recession and earned a great success.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/306766/nokia-sees-pakistan-becoming-a-high-growth-market/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a story about Emmy award winning Pakistani documentary producer Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy:

“We’re all storytellers,” says documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who knows how to make the most of people's storytelling abilities. A recent film about children groomed by the Taliban to become suicide bombers won her an Emmy award, making her the first Pakistani woman to get television's highest accolade. And her most recent film, Saving Face, about Pakistani women who've survived acid attacks is on the Oscar nomination shortlist.
----------
She's the brains behind the Citizens Archive of Pakistan, a database that collects stories from people across the country. “Our goal is to create a repository. We want to make a space to record how the nation has changed over the past years. And currently CAP is the only organization that is recording the personal stories of people,” she says.

Obaid-Chinoy feels that history is in danger of being wiped from her country's collective memory because politics is re-writing the national narrative. "Many children today are barely aware of what happened during the 1971 war," she says. "The defeat of the Pakistani army which led to the creation of Bangladesh is something the government is eager to forget. But CAP found enough people willing to talk about their personal experiences of the war."

The organisation's website offers a chance to browse - for no charge - through an extraordinary collection of videos. Each one is one person's story; their memories of a specific time in history.

It's a simple idea, but a powerful one. Obaid-Chinoy says it’s critical to record the stories because



“Pakistan has been extremely bad at recording its own history properly. Every new government has tried to erase the previous rulers from history. What is left in museums and school textbooks is propaganda from the latest government.”

Bringing the stories to the people
The spirit of the project however is not just to make a preserved video archive for historians.

“We’re also bringing our archive to the people. In Pakistan, information is a privilege of the wealthy, unfortunately. If you have money you can afford education and become more aware of the world around you. The CAP wants to change this,” explains Obaid-Chinoy.

And one of the ways its doing this is through their School Outreach Tour, a program sends a mobile archive of videos, photographs, and newspapers to schools around the country. The aim is to teach children more about Pakistan’s rich history and make them feel proud of it again.

“Part of the reason why Pakistan is in the shape it is in today is because it’s hard for young people to believe in the possibilities of their country. They don’t understand what the idea was behind the creation of this nation. They know so little about Pakistan’s good years,” Says Sharmeen.
----------
“They like telling people about the dreams they had back then. But Partition came with traumas as well. Many people left their homes to follow that dream. It was the turning point in their lives, but the moment itself was filled with hope.”

And hope is something that has been in short supply in Pakistan in recent years. The country has paid a high price for the US-led war on terror. As the forces of extremism, violence and western manipulation pull the nation in different directions, it could well be Obaid-Chinoy's story bank that may end up being definitive repository of Pakistan's soul.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report in The Nation about the use of mobile phones to deliver teacher training and resources:

ISLAMABAD - Nokia and UNESCO Islamabad have launched “Mobile Learning Project for Teacher’s Professional Development” on Thursday as formal collaboration took place in the presence of senior government officials, Nokia and UNESCO representatives.
As part of this programme, UNESCO and Nokia are joining hands, where Nokia is providing a technology solution known as Nokia Education Delivery to the UNESCO project ‘use of ICT for professional development of public school teachers’ in remote areas.
In Pakistan, through the project, Nokia will help UNESCO to enable the delivery of high- quality educational materials to teachers who lack training and resources.
Through mobile phones teachers will be given an opportunity to train themselves. Nokia developed the Nokia Education Delivery programme to allow using a mobile phone to access and download videos and other educational materials from a constantly updated education library.
Speaking about the project, UNESCO Director, Kozue Kai Nagata said, “In 21st century public-private partnerships are enjoying growing attention and support as a new and sustainable modality for development.
We are confident to collaborate with Nokia to provide us with the best platform to train public school teachers. Nokia Education Delivery programme is fit to match our need of delivering quality training to a large number of public school teachers across Pakistan through the project named “Mobile Learning for Teachers”.
Amir Jahangir, President AGAHI and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, shared his views on the launch that “Pakistan is a knowledge starved country, where universal education has its own challenges. To meet the target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on education, Pakistan needs to address its education challenges through innovation and technology which can reach to a larger population with cost effective solutions”.
This unique pilot project for Pakistan has been initiated by UNESCO and AGAHI while Nokia Pakistan will enable the project implementation by providing not just Nokia devices but a complete solution via its Nokia Education Delivery programme.


http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Business/23-Dec-2011/Nokia-Unesco-join-hands
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Brookings Inst paper on mobile phones are helping increase female literacy in Pakistan:

In the small village of Hafizibad in Pakistan’s Punjab province, a young girl is using her mobile phone to send an SMS message in Urdu to her teacher. After sending, she receives messages from her teacher in response, which she diligently copies by hand in her notebook to practice her writing skills. She does this from the safety of her home, and with her parents’ permission, during the school break, which is significant due to the insecurity of the rural region in which she lives. The girl is part of a Mobilink-UNESCO program to increase literacy skills among girls in Pakistan. Initial outcomes look positive; after four months, the percentage of girls who achieved an A level on literacy examinations increased from 27 percent to 54 percent. Likewise, the percentage of girls who achieved a C level on examinations decreased from 52 percent to 15 percent. The power of mobile phone technology, which is fairly widespread in Pakistan, appears in this case to help hurdle several education barriers by finding new ways to support learning for rural girls in insecure areas—girls who usually have limited opportunities to attend school and who frequently do not receive individual attention when they do. Often they live in households with very few books or other materials to help them retain over summer vacation what they learned during the school year.

http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2012/01_education_technology_winthrop.aspx
Riaz Haq said…
Has the explosion of media in India been a mixed blessing? asks BBC's Soutik Biswas:

With more than 70,000 newspapers and over 500 satellite channels in several languages, Indians are seemingly spoilt for choice and diversity.

India is already the biggest newspaper market in the world - over 100 million copies sold each day. Advertising revenues have soared. In the past two decades, the number of channels has grown from one - the dowdy state-owned broadcaster Doordarshan - to more than 500, of which more than 80 are news channels.

But such robust growth, many believe, may have come at the cost of accuracy, journalistic ethics and probity.

The media has taken some flak in recent months for being shallow, inaccurate and sometimes damagingly obtrusive. Former Supreme Court judge and chairman of the country's Press Council, Markandey Katju, fired the first broadside, exhorting journalists to educate themselves more. Predictably, it provoked a sharp reaction from the media.

Economist Amartya Sen is the latest to join the list of critics after being wrongly quoted in the mainstream media a couple of times recently. There are at least two huge barriers, writes Dr Sen in a recent article, to the quality of Indian media.

One is about professional laxity which leads to inaccuracies and mistakes. The other, he says, is a class bias in the choice of what news to cover and what to ignore.

Dr Sen offers unexceptional solutions to ensure accuracy - newspapers should publish corrections (a few like The Hindu and Mint already do) and journalists should be given more training. He suggests that reporters should make use of recorders during interviews rather than take rushed notes for accuracy - in fact, many reporters do use recorders and even when they don't, they usually do take correct notes. But stories can sometimes get mangled on their way to publication, resulting in inaccurate headlines.

Dr Sen's worry about lack of training is more pertinent. Most Indian newsrooms have no legacy - or practice - of editorial training. They still host energetic, sharp and argumentative journalists. But analysts say many newsrooms do lack rigour and there is a crying need for some serious, consistent training in fact checking and reporting ethics.

Dr Sen's other grouse about the class bias in Indian newsrooms is valid but again unexceptional....

Does this also have to do with low minority participation in newsrooms?

A 2006 study by the Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies found that of the 315 key decision-makers surveyed from 37 Hindi and English publication and TV channels, almost 90% of decision makers in the English language print media and 79% in television were from the upper castes. There is virtually no representation of Dalits (formerly known as untouchables), who comprise some 20% of India's population and live on the margins. This accounts for a serious lack of diversity in Indian media.
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A 71-page Press Council investigation named leading newspapers that had received money for publishing information disguised as news in favour of individuals, including senior politicians. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, an independent journalist who was one of the investigators, says a lobby of big publishers pushed the Press Council to water down the report. Even Vice President Hamid Ansari regretted the development, saying that the Press Council's inability to come out with the report was "a pointer to the problems of self-regulation and the culture of silence in the entire industry when it comes to self-criticism".

How do you stop this? Journalists like Mr Guha Thakurta argue for increased transparency, self-regulation and competition regulation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-16524711
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report about Pakistan's telecom sector figures in 2010-11:

Telecom sector has a potential to attract billions dollars of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as total revenues of telecom operators in the country has been swelled to an all time high Rs 362 billion in 2011 at the end of financial year.

The telecom sector has expanded its services rapidly in many parts of the country over the period of past one decade. It is still in the evolving stage to deploy its services in many un-served small cities and villages and companies are plan to increase their operation areas in maximum locations to get handsome number of customers of their different services.

According to a report of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) the telecom sector contributed more than Rs 116.9 billion to the national exchequer in the outgoing financial year during 2010-11.

Accordingly, the GST/FED collections from the sector spike by 20% to reach Rs 52.6 billion in the same year whereas Rs 7.2 billion activation tax collected.

According to this report PTA deposits reached to Rs12 billion whereas other taxes reached to Rs 45.2 billion.

Cellular income which constitutes major chunk of the telecom revenues was boosted by 11% to Rs. 262 billion from Rs. 236 billion. A modest increase in cellular industry’s ARPU was witnessed from US$ 2.41 in the previous fiscal year to US$ 2.45.

The revenues of local loop operators recorded Rs58.32 billion. The wireless operators earned Rs4.84 billion and LDI sector revenues reached to Rs 29.95 billion. The value added sector made Rs 7.02 billion revenues during fiscal year 2011..

The number of mobile subscribers at the end of fiscal year 2011 stood at 108.9 million, showing growth rate of 10%, double than that of the last year. Mobile penetration rose to 65.4% from 60.4% in the previous year.

In this report it has been said that during the past three years, PTA has collected around Rs. 40 billion against APC for USF. In its drive to curb grey traffic, the Authority saved revenue of US$ 26 million.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in its report “Vision 2020” estimated that telecom investments in Pakistan would be landed more than US$ 2.4 billion by 2020. The mobile subscribers’ base is expected to be widened to 161 million, hence approximately 89% of the total population by 2020.


http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?id=188473
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a NY Times story about unruly Pak media:

One morning last week, television viewers in Pakistan were treated to a darkly comic sight: a posse of middle-class women roaming through a public park in Karachi, on the hunt for dating couples engaged in “immoral” behavior.

Panting breathlessly and trailed by a cameraman, the group of about 15 women chased after — sometimes at jogging pace — girls and boys sitting quietly on benches overlooking the Arabian Sea or strolling under the trees. The women peppered them with questions: What were they doing? Did their parents know? Were they engaged?

Some couples reacted with alarm, and tried to scuttle away. A few gave awkward answers. One couple claimed to be married. The show’s host, Maya Khan, 31, demanded to see proof. “So where is your marriage certificate?” she asked sternly.

This hourlong spectacle, broadcast live on Samaa TV on Jan. 17, set off a furious reaction in parts of Pakistan. Outrage sprang from the Internet and percolated into the national newspapers, where writers slammed Ms. Khan’s tactics as a “witch hunt.”

“Vigil-aunties,” read one headline, referring to the South Asian term “aunty” for older, bossy and often judgmental women.

Now, the protests are headed to court. On Friday, four local nongovernment organizations will file a civil suit against Samaa TV in Pakistan’s Supreme Court, hoping to galvanize the country’s top judges into action.

“Journalists don’t have the right to become moral police,” said Adnan Rehmat of Intermedia, a media development organization that is among the petitioners. “We need to draw a line.”
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The media revolution has transformed social and political boundaries: in 2007, feisty coverage played a central role in pushing Pervez Musharraf toward the exit; in recent weeks it helped guard against a possible military coup.

But television is also a lucrative business controlled by powerful, largely unaccountable tycoons. Last year Pakistan’s television stations had advertising revenues of more than $200 million, according to Aurora, an industry journal — 28 percent more than the previous year.

Amid stiff competition for viewers, channels have relied on populist measures — rowdy political talks shows and, in recent times, vigilante-style “investigative” shows modeled on programs in neighboring India.

Some have a noble objective: holding to account crooked public servants, police officers and even fellow journalists. But others have veered into territory that could be described as Pakistan’s answer to Jerry Springer — voyeuristic, mawkish and intrusive.

In recent months, one reporter screamed at a man accused of child rape as he awaited trial outside a courthouse; another hectored a man said to be a self-confessed necrophile inside a jail cell; and a TV reporter “raided” a gathering of whisky drinkers, even though alcohol flows freely at many media parties.
------------
But on Wednesday, Samaa TV issued a formal apology for her show, followed by a short clip of Ms. Khan, sitting on a bed, offering an apology of sorts. “I never intended to make you teary-eyed or hurt you,” she said.

The furor has renewed long-standing demands for media regulation. With the state-run Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority seen as ineffective, the organizations approaching the Supreme Court on Friday hope the judiciary can help. “We need to hold the media to account,” Mr. Rehmat said.
--------------
“My real worry is that Pakistan is moving rightwards, and this time the face won’t have a beard,” said Mr. Nasir, the former head of Dawn News television. “And before people know it, they won’t know what’s hit them.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/world/asia/for-many-in-pakistan-a-television-show-goes-too-far.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a PRI report on journalism in Pakistan:

Lawrence Pintak, dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, is advising journalism students at four universities in Pakistan’s tribal regions, where the Taliban is strongest.

A professor at one of the universities told him, “we need to include conflict safety training in our curriculum,” because students face roadside bombs and Taliban threats while on class assignments, and professors are killed and kidnapped. Campus radio stations are visited regularly by military intelligence and numerous journalists have been threatened, beaten or killed for their work.

Even with the dangers, Pintak said journalism is flourishing in the region, with many men and women signing up for the programs.

Pintak said young Pakistanis are pursuing journalism, “because they want to have a voice. Journalism is another way for them to impact their communities and their country.”

Students have been given radio stations, in part, through USAID, which trains student journalists and act as a force to counter Mullah Radio, extremist pro-Taliban and Sharia law broadcasts.

In both urban and rural tribal areas, Pintak said access to news is thriving. There's also increased opportunities for women.

"The one difference is that the male students may go off to do an internship at a major news organizaton, and, in many cases, the familes don't want the women to leave," he said.

Female students are encouraged to do their internships in the campus radio stations if their families do not want them traveling to the cities.

Their families have reason to fear large cities, as many journalists who have been killed in Pakistan were killed in Karachi and Islamabad. A senior journalist told Pintak a number of journalists in Karachi have been receiving threats.

“Some choose to stay quiet over the matter, but I know of at least four other journalists, some of them who work for the local media, who have also received similar threats from the Taliban,” he said.

Journalists in Pakistan face a number of obstacles and great opposition from the military, extremists and the Taliban.
-------
Pintak said meeting journalism professors from the region put his problems as the head of a journalism school in perspective.

“While we worry about budget cuts, they are literally putting their lives on the line for journalism education, and that’s a very inspiring thing,” he said. "They have students who are cutting up old newspapers and magazines to paste together a newspaper. They're teaching online journalism without computers. When they saw what else we could do, they couldn't suck up enough information."

Pakistan is set to have its first ever journalism awards March 28, in collaboration with the leading press clubs across the country.

The Agahi Awards will hand out accolades in 15 different categories, including business, economy, conflict, corruption, crime, education, infotainment, the connection between water, energy and food security, gender and governance.

In addition, to creating more awareness of social issues, the categories of human rights, interfaith, judiciary, media ethics, terrorism and extremism have also been included. The goal of the awards is to imporove the state of journalism in Pakistan.


http://www.pri.org/stories/business/global-development/journalism-flourishes-in-pakistan-despite-obvious-dangers-9138.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a story of a Pakistani female journalist visiting Minnesota to work with an American TV station:

Having grown up in one of the oldest cities on the Indian subcontinent, you might not expect English words to come so easily to Gharidah Farooqi. But they do. Especially when describing her experience at a recent Wild hockey game.

(PHOTO: Gharidah Farooqi is second from the left. Also pictured left to right are 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS producers Tim Burns, Molly Andersen, and Amanda Theisen)

When talking about a last-minute Erik Christensen goal that tied the game, or about the Miko Koivu goal that won the game in overtime, Farooqi uses words like "amazing" and "really exciting."

Strong words given what she's seen in her career as a journalist.

Her first field assignment was in 2005, covering an earthquake that killed 79,000 in Pakistan's Kashmir region. More recently, she reported on the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs .

Farooqi is spending time at 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.COM as part of the U.S./Pakistan Professional Partnership Program. Created in 2009, the U.S. State Department describes it as part of a "U.S. strategy to bring peace and stability in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region."

Farooqi is part of the fourth group of Pakistani journalists to visit the United States since the program began, and the second to visit 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.COM. One group of American journalists has also traveled to Pakistan. The goal, says the State Department, is "to develop cross cultural relationships and develop professional skills that will postively impact people's lives and will result in stronger ties between the two nations."

Farooqi hopes Minnesotans will ask her about her country, rather than rely on the images they see on TV.

"Pakistan is so much more than O.B.L. (Osama bin Laden)," said Farooqi.

She's also learning the United States is more than what she's seen on CNN and the Fox News Channel.

"Americans are great people to work with," she said, describing the people she's met during her time here as "friendly" and "professional." After a week here, she found many similarities with the newsrooms where she's worked. But, she did find one difference that really struck a chord with her.

"I see a lot of women working in the newsroom," she said. "We don't have that in my country."

Farooqi said very few women had reported major stories in Pakistan when she was sent to cover the 2005 earthquake. At the time, she was working for Pakistan TV, a state-run organization she says held a virtual monopoly on the news business up until a decade ago.

She says the rise of private television stations, first broadcasting from outside of Pakistan, and now from within, is slowly changing the landscape for women in journalism. She sees it happening at Geo News, where she now works as an anchor and reporter.

But looking at the diversity of the staff in the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.COM newsroom, led by News Director Lindsay Radford, she sees more room for improvement back home.

"We need to learn this in my country," she said.

Farooqi's work on Geo News is broadcast all over Pakistan. It can also be seen via cable and satellite in the United Arab Emirates, parts of Europe, Canada, and here in the United States.

And, if you wondered why English words come so easily to her, (as I did), credit her early schooling. In her hometown of Multan, she attended a mission school where she was taught by British nuns.


http://kaaltv.com/article/stories/S2565822.shtml?cat=10151
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s teledensity crosses 70pc mark, reports Daily Times:

KARACHI: Teledensity in Pakistan crossed the 70 percent mark by end of February 2012 mainly on the growing subscriptions of cellular mobile phone companies in urban and rural areas of the country, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) data said on Saturday.

The teledensity of cellular phone stood at 67.2 percent; wireless sector teledensity reached at 1.8 percent and landline teledensity settled at 1.6 percent, making overall teledensity at 70.6 percent.

Pakistan’s teledensity is the second highest in South Asia after India that reached 78.10 percent. It remained on top among the region till January 2011 with modest annual growth, however corrective measures and saturated markets slowed down its growth.

The teledensity is defined as the number of customers per 100 people. Hence it is roughly said that 70 percent of the population own and avail telephony services through different technologies.

The mobile phone connection has risen to 116 million on different networks, constituting the lion’s share in the field of telecom sector in terms of subscribers and their technology selection.

Similarly, the wireless phone companies have increased their number of connections to 2.7 million by February whereas the landline connections decreased to stand at 2.9 million in the country.

In the cellular sector, Mobilink grabbed the largest subscribers’ base with 35.2 million. It was followed by Telenor and Ufone with 28.8 million and 22.4 million connections, respectively. The subscribers’ number of Zong and Warid stood at 14.9 million and 14.6 million users, respectively.

Analysts in the telecom sector said that the growth in cellular subscribers’ base showed the penetration of the mobile phone operators in the rural and small areas besides the metropolis.

They said that mobile phone users of multiple SIMs have been on the rise for availing on-net calls and SMS packages of different networks for affordability and increasing services utility.

Besides, there are millions of connections inactive for months but the cellular operators try to reactivate them by offering free balance to subscribers. In this regard, the cellular operators have introduced several prize schemes to attract new and retaining customers to maintain their growing base.

In the wireless sector, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) and TeleCard are market leaders with 1.43 million and 0.743 million, respectively. In the landline sector, PTCL and NTC are market leaders with 2.7 million and 104 million connections, respectively.

The wireless operators’ competitive packages in the limited cities witnessed gradual growth particularly on daily consumption against fixed charges. On the contrary, the landline sector witnessed constant decline in connections on the services issues, high tariff and line rent.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\04\15\story_15-4-2012_pg5_8

http://www.pta.gov.pk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=269&Itemid=658
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET story on Blackberry presence in Pakistan:

RIM has opened the doors of App World to the sixth largest mobile market, three years after its launch in US, Canada and UK – indicating a shift of focus to the emerging economies. With the inclusion of Pakistan, App World is now available in over 130 countries.

Pakistani BlackBerry users can access apps that include the newly introduced BBM connected apps, which make it easier for users to stay in touch with their contacts, share content and play multiplayer games, and discover new things from their BBM community; Saihgal said.

There are already several applications available in App World that were developed with Pakistani users in mind, the MD said, including the Pakistan Cricket News app for sports fans; the Abida Parveen Collection for music aficionados; the Karachi Love application for tourists visiting the port city and even a Pakistan Animated Theme to liven up the smartphone.

Limited access to apps

BB users welcomed the much-awaited launch of App World, however, they still don’t have access to all the apps available on the store. RIM may have to put in more to win over rivals iPhone and Android whose users enjoy unlimited access to the App Store and Android Marketplace, respectively, according to experts.

Pakistani users, according to Saihgal, will have access to the Middle East catalogue that provides access to only 40,000 apps.

Though appreciated, RIM’s recent move was not a surprise for industry analysts who believe it was always on the cards – especially due to increasing popularity of iPhone and Android-powered phones.

“BlackBerry certainly dominated Pakistani market until 2010. However, its market share fell recently after iPhone gained more popularity among masses,” said a telecom official who requested not to be named. Introduction of android-powered phones to the market was another blow to the Canadian smartphone maker, official added.

Responding to a question, the official said companies usually give BlackBerry to their executives and managers as part of their job package, which is why it dominates the corporate sector. He, however, added iPhones and Android-powered phones have recently gained much popularity among masses in the country, it is, therefore, hard to say whether BlackBerry still dominates the country’s smartphone market or not.

The exact figures for BlackBerry’s market share in Pakistan could not be obtained – mainly due to the information being confidential – however, three telecom sources estimated that there are about 1 million BB users in Pakistan.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/374851/smartphone-wars-pakistan-part-of-blackberrys-shift-to-emerging-markets/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Huffington Post piece on dangers faced by journalists in Pakistan:

In the context of defense and security cooperation, Britain could offer Pakistan assistance in reversing impunity in the killings of journalists. These murders have been attributed to government officials, criminal gangs, wealthy business owners, and militant groups. Assistance to local police investigators working on these unsolved cases--coupled with a commitment to increase the forensic capabilities of local and national police--would go far in protecting journalists. Increased law enforcement capacity is also in the interest of the broader public.

As for those journalists covering dangerous assignments, Britain could offer two forms of assistance that would have immediate impact:

Getting helmets, body armor, and other protective gear into the hands of at-risk journalists would be an immediate and cost-effective way of protecting lives. In the past, there have been problems getting this gear through Pakistani customs, an issue that could be resolved by the talks in London.
By helping bear the cost of security training to individual journalists--and preparing Pakistani trainers to pass on that knowledge to the larger press corps--British aid could go far in saving lives. Journalist organizations and media companies have taken steps to improve training, but more assistance is needed.

And here is one other proposal: In cooperation with international aid donors and partnering with a Pakistani academic institution of appropriate stature, Britain could help launch a graduate school of journalism in Pakistan. Many newsroom managers say they are hiring journalism students who are eager but not fully prepared. The problem is partly caused by the explosion of demand; Pakistani media has been going through a protracted period of growth for quite a while. But many of Pakistan's media and communications schools don't seem to have the budgets or the programs, in English, Urdu, or Pashto, to meet the industry's demand for newsroom-ready reporters. And if that graduate school of journalism should also host a journalists' safety training program, who would find fault with that?


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/committee-to-protect-journalists/uk-should-help-pakistan-t_b_1501244.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report on the growth of mass media in Pakistan:

..We now have 90 TV channels besides 28 foreign channels vying for Pakistani audience. Similarly, there are at least 106 licensed FM radio station and a countless illegal FM stations mostly operated by various madrassas.

Traditionally, Pakistani media was effusively owned or dictated by establishment mechanism or party in power until 2001. There was only one state-owned TV channel, PTV with some semi-government and privately owned entertainment content like STN and NTM. Radio market was fully monopolized by Radio Pakistan. Pervez Musharaf’s military regime, under immense internal and international pressure opened up electronic media market for local and foreign investors in 2001.

In 2002, government established an electronic media regulatory body called PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority) with a mandate of issuing licenses to private firms for operating in Pakistani media market. Furthermore, authority is also responsible for regulating electronic media content distribution and monitoring; hence it can ban or put fine on any channel or company for not following terms and criteria given by the government [1]. According to PEMRA’s 2009 report, it has issued licenses to 83 channels in the private sector. In the same year, about 60 channels were fully functional in private sector including 22 news channels, 35 in general entertainment category and 3 of the religious genre. Now in 2010, total number of channels has reached 90. While foreign channels providing entertainment and news are 28 in number, there are four educational channels run by Virtual University and five by state-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV). PEMRA’s report also reveals that the electronic media industry is providing bread and butter to 150000 people directly and seven million people indirectly in Pakistan [2] though at some extent these figures are quite dubious. It is estimated that total investment in electronic media has exceeded $2.5 billion and 17 percent of population relies on electronic media for first hand information [3]. The investment in media industry is growing at the rate of 07 percent per annum [4].
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Meanwhile, the TV viewership has reached to 86 million in 2009 which was only 63 million in 2004[8]. Interestingly, in the last 5 years, viewership in villages, small and medium size cities, increased tremendously and has reached to 68 million while metropolitan and large cities have a viewership of total 18 million. According to some other sources, total viewership of television has reached to 115 million [9]. Pakistani media has grown at the rate of 132 percent per year in last one decade with 150 advertising agencies and 74 production companies [10].
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According to these figures total exposure of print media including newspapers and magazines (72%) is still less than 89% exposure of the television which has become a dominant medium in last one decade. All three most circulated newspapers and top two most circulated magazines are owned by the same media moguls who are influential in the TV market. Print media is the oldest media and historically most influential media which has publications in 11 languages and daily circulation of around 4 million, despite a tremendous diversity in cultures and ethnicity in the society of Pakistan [12]...


http://www.viewpointonline.net/media-boom-90-channels-106-fm-stations-in-10-years.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of an Op Ed by Ejaz Haider in Express Tribune:

The Express-Freely Tribune (EFT)? The new kid on the block making waves, printing everyone from that obnoxious ISPR-ISI-CIA-RAW-Mossad-DPC agent EH to the respectable, politically correct libs, Pak-style. They are a free for all maila, the EFT-wallahs, even getting the injuns to comment freely. But most of all they are the Twitteratis’ heartthrobs, trending there constantly. Just the kinda paper for the impending blogger-to-become-op-ed-disaster.

Next step, crucial for product positioning, is to select the right topics, issues that get 400 tweets and 2k likes on Facebook and establish you as the best thing that has happened this side of the Gospels. Here’s a guide.

Write about the Deep State. What? You don’t know what Deep State is? What a loser. Deep State is a state within a state. It lies deep, buried under layers of deception. Only a few of the insightful can see it and are privy to its shenanigans. But do not despair. You don’t have to know what it is. The EFT readers get it when they see the phrase Deep State. Just use your conclusion about Deep State as your unstated premise and screw the rest. The phrase has its own 100-tweets-and-500-FB-Likes rating even if you don’t say much else. Simply put, in Pakistan, if you haven’t had a good crap for days, blame it on the Deep State. No, it’s not the Orwellian Big Brother. It’s very Pakistani and there’s nothing literary about it.

Next, but most important and allied with the Deep-State positioning, is your approach to the Pakistan-damned-need-to-be-defenestrated-army. This is an army, just in case you didn’t know this, which Voltaire predicted about. You don’t have to know who the sucker was and when and where he lived. Just remember the name for devil’s sake. You also don’t need to know his contributions to history, philosophy, prose, poetry etcetera (the Twitterati are not interested). You just need to know what he said about an army with a state rather than the other way round. No, he didn’t say it for Prussia. He said it about the Pakistani military. Now stick to this 101 if you don’t want to spoil your chances with the EFT readership.


tribune.com.pk/story/385779/make-it-big-on-express-freely-tribune/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Nation report on Telenor's growing business:

Telenor Pakistan posted record quarterly revenue of Rs 23 billion according to the latest figures released by the Telenor Group, says a press release. It added 615,000 subscriptions during April-June, ending with 29.9 million subscribers, a growth of 12pc over the same quarter last year. The company’s EBITDA margin observed an impressive YoY growth of 26pc, while market share remained stable at 24pc.Chief Executive Officer Lars Christian Iuel, speaking about the solid quarter figures, said: “I am pleased with the performance of Telenor Pakistan in the second quarter of 2012. Despite operating in a challenging business environment, we have posted strong results, which are a testament of our employees’ hard work and unrelenting dedication.” During the second quarter of the year, Telenor Pakistan launched the second phase of its mobile phone application development project Djuice Opportunity. The company also joined hands with the Government of Punjab and AJK for provision of information service via SMS to farmers.Also in the reporting period, Telenor Talkshawk Internet Champion– a knowledge-based initiative to help empower digital generation in Pakistan– was concluded in AJK, whereas it is currently underway in Punjab. Overall, Telenor Group reported revenues of NOK 25.4 billion, representing an organic revenue growth of 5%. EBITDA before other items was NOK eight billion, EBITDA margin was 31.7% and operating cash flow was NOK 5.1billion. With five million new customers added in the period, Telenor’s total subscription base has now passed 150 million.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/26-Jul-2012/telenor-pakistan-continues-to-perform-well-in-q2-2012
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Daily Times on online trading marketplace in Pakistan:

The team at Dekho.com.pk reveals Pakistan’s twin capital cities Rawalpindi/
Islamabad are the trading capitals in online second-hand items with a value of Rs 7,765.7 per capita.
Rawalpindi and Islamabad are followed by Lahore with Rs 6,904.2 per capita and Karachi Rs 1722.3 per capita as compared to Rs 851.37 per capita for Pakistan as a whole.
The Dekho.com.pk team confirmed Lahore has the most valued second hand trade value for cars with an average price of Rs 785,036 followed by Rawalpindi/Islamabad with Rs 761,252 and Karachi with Rs 626,951 possibly owing to Karachi being the first city on port-entry for all second hand imports.
Rawalpindi/Islamabad however proves to be the more technologically ambitious of the cities with an average price of Rs 13,149 for second-hand cellphones, mostly smartphones, followed by Lahore, which has an average value for second hand cellphone trade at Rs 12,526 and Karachi with Rs 11,284. Further analysis reveals with an average price of Rs 21,860,813 for houses in Karachi as compared to Rs 13,566,355 in Lahore, Rawalpindi/Islamabad has one of the lowest average values for houses with an average value of Rs 13,520,168.
Interestingly, the online trading of animals is also actively picking up with Lahore alone providing trading value of Rs 54,804,035 among which dogs and farm animals are the most popular. It also received over 5,700 job postings across Pakistan in these 10 months.
In terms of sheer numbers, Lahore is the online classified trading capital in Pakistan according to Dekho.com.pk with over 47 percent to Rs 75,946,267,779 of the online classified trading market share.
In Pakistan, the use of online shopping or trading mediums is still relatively new and despite this, the figures are so promising.
With over 20 million internet users in Pakistan, Dekho is one of Pakistan’s fastest growing free classifieds websites with a simple aim to provide a credible platform platform for online buyers and sellers to interact.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\29\story_29-8-2012_pg5_9

http://dekho.com.pk/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Nation report on the launch of Warner Brothers' WB channel in Pakistan:

Lahore (PR) - Turner Broadcasting Systems Asia Pacific, Inc. is to launch a new entertainment channel in Pakistan - WB. Available in homes across Pakistan from today, WB is Turner’s brand new 24-hour, English entertainment channel. This launch bolsters Turner’s commitment to consistently fulfil the entertainment needs of Pakistan viewers. It will serve as the premiere destination for all Hollywood enthusiasts offering the biggest hit movies, hottest action, best drama, funniest series and brightest stars from the world’s most prolific studio, Warner Bros., in a sleek and exciting environment.

WB will be distributed in Pakistan through Homecast Entertainment Private Limited and will be made available to advertisers by TBS Pakistan with the help of their ad sales representatives Strategic Alliances.

The channel is targeted at an upscale urban audience with an appetite for quality programming and 24-hour Hollywood content. WB will bring the best of award winning Hollywood entertainment to TV sets in Pakistan.

WB is Pakistan’s gateway to Hollywood! This premiere destination is meant for all Hollywood aficionados, offering the biggest movies, hottest action, best dramas, funniest series and the brightest stars from the world’s most prolific studio. Showcasing programming licensed from Warner Bros., WB is aimed at a Pakistan audience with a colossal appetite for Hollywood’s best content, around the clock. WB is a 24-hour, English-language entertainment channel from Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc. Now that’s Hollywood!


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/entertainment/01-Nov-2012/wb-channel-now-in-pakistan
Riaz Haq said…
Here's NewsTribe on CNN affiliate channel in Pakistan:

Karachi: Cable News Network affiliated Urdu news channel Dais will start its transmission soon in Pakistan.

Dais will feature selected CNN programming and news, dubbed in Urdu in addition to its own quality coverage of Pakistan and the diaspora. Dais has its corporate headquarters in Lahore and bureaus in Islamabad and Karachi.

In this regard, Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc.’s CNN International and Pakistan’s Associated Group (AG) have signed a broadcast affiliate agreement for the upcoming Pakistani news channel, Dais.

The agreement provides Dais, which will broadcast in the Urdu language, access to a range of CNN video and newsgathering resources. The agreement also grants CNN reciprocal access to Dais’s news coverage of Pakistan to complement its own English-language reporting from its Islamabad bureau and regional resources. CNN will also provide professional training to Dais’s newsgathering team.

“This broadcast agreement will enable us to augment our high-quality coverage of news and events both in Pakistan and abroad by utilizing newsgathering support from CNN,” said Dais chief executive Fasih Ahmed. “Dais will provide fully contextualized information and analyses. We will present news that matters to our viewers in an in-depth, engaging, and energetic format helping them form well honed opinions. Our objective is to create premium news with style, dignity and grace,” said Ahmed.

“Dais now joins the select ranks of CNN broadcast affiliates who form an extensive and unparalleled global network and with which CNN International enjoys mutually-beneficial, reciprocal broadcasting relationships,” said Ringo Chan, Senior Vice President, CNN Broadcast Services and Affiliate Relations, Asia Pacific. “We look forward to working with Dais to provide CNN programming, training and video as they develop their network.”

Dais is AG’s flagship media project. AG, established in 1965, is one of Pakistan’s premier business houses. AG’s first media enterprise, Newsweek Pakistan, is being published under license from The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company, LLC since 2010.


http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/10/08/cnn-affiliate-news-channel-dais-coming-in-pakistan/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of Al-Arabiya story on Turkish soap airing in Pakistan:

Coincidentally, the talk of the town in Pakistan these days is a flamboyant Turkish soap opera having a theme that revolves around a taboo subject like incest, besides over exposure, and other moral problems associated with the super rich class.

The soap opera 'Ishq e Memn' [meaning forbidden love in local language], dubbed in national language Urdu, was recently-concluded on a private TV channel after spanning over several months. It created much of a stir in a society having a vast majority that upholds Islamic culture and traditions, as it indulged in over exposure of actresses, showing cleavages, thighs and boasting mini-skirts etc. and the editors had to blur these parts to avoid wrath of the fundamentalists.

Such was the dimension of the ripples it created in the whole society that Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had to intervene and issue a statement saying that such soap operas were representing neither the Turkish culture nor Islam. This was perhaps for the first time that Mr. Erdogan had taken notice of something about his country on the media of a brother Islamic country, and of course the highest level of condemnation for a play.

Turkish soap opera was also aired, dubbed in Arabic, by MBC - parent group of Al Arabiya news channel, a couple of years back and it attracted quite a big audience that still savors its glamour. MBC is considered pioneer of dubbed Turkish soap operas and has aired many others for Arabic language viewers.

Erdogan’s comments set in motion the authorities in Pakistan. The standing committee of the upper house of parliament [Senate] that deals with information and broadcasting expressed its concerns over the kind of vulgar foreign content being aired offending the feelings of majority of people. The senate committee issued instructions to concerned authorities to take cognizance of the matter and take necessary steps, but the soap opera reached conclusion before any step could be taken.

The condemnation of conservative quarters in Pakistan to this soap opera was understandable, but what amazed people was the protest by the private TV production houses, TV artistes etc. who are accused of promoting vulgarity in the garb of liberalism in society. The private drama producers and artistes primarily demand banning foreign dubbed soap operas during the prime time when the rate of advertisements is the highest, fearing such a practice would destroy the private TV production industry which took birth in the country courtesy the liberal media policy of former military dictator General [retired] Pervez Musharraf over a decade ago.

They feared a doomed future for private TV production industry at the hands of unrestrained foreign soap operas, like the open import of Indian movies devastated Pakistani film industry a decade ago. Their least stressed concern was that foreign soap operas would prove disastrous for Pakistani cultural values.


http://english.alarabiya.net/views/2012/12/21/256353.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's ET on China Mobile's plans in Pakistan:



“We are eying the number two position by 2014 at the most,” China Mobile Pakistan CEO Fan Yun Jun, sporting a Pakistan-China friendship badge on the lapel of his coat, tells The Express Tribune at the company’s headquarters in Islamabad.

In Pakistan since 2007, China Mobile’s Zong was the last player to join cellular mobile operators (CMOs) in the country. It is currently ranked fourth based on the size of its customer base with more than 17 million subscribers.

Zong recorded 50% growth in its subscriber base in 2011, and it is likely to achieve similar growth this year, according to the company. Owing to its strategy, which focuses on expanding the company’s subscriber base and cheaper calling rates, Zong has gained close to a million subscribers in the July-September quarter alone.

And while naysayers claim the company cannot survive for long based on its average revenue per user (ARPU) – currently the lowest in the industry – its optimistic CEO does not yet consider it a problem. “We in no hurry to increase our calling rates,” Jun says. “We are enjoying this position – offering the lowest calling rates in the industry.”
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The company may not be willing to increase calling rates just yet, but it is venturing into other areas to increase its revenues. In November 2012, Zong launched Timepey (on time), its own brand of mobile banking services, joining other operators already in the industry

Timepey looks set to get a significant initial boost from a contract for the disbursement of Army salaries. The contract is one of the major benefits it stands to gain because of its partnership with Askari Bank, which is owned by the Army Welfare Trust.

A greener company

Meanwhile, Zong is also using a combination of alternate energy sources to adjust its rising fuel costs – one of the major headaches cellular operators are currently grappling with.

“We want to increase revenue, but reduce costs at the same time,” Jun explains. “All CMOs are making efforts to use alternative energy sources [in this regard].”

Zong has provided more than 400 solar panel sets at its sites countrywide, according to Jun. Zong has also launched a pilot project on one of their sites that will run on biogas. Additionally, Jun reveals, the company is using intelligent controllers to reduce energy consumption.

Another technology introduced by the company is the multicarrier power amplifier, which has helped the company increase its energy efficiency by a great deal. “We have introduced this solution here and transferred about 70 to 80 sites on this technology. It saves us between 42-51% in energy consumption,” Jun says.

Possible merger plans?

Zong is currently working on several joint ventures with Warid Telecom. The latter is said to be in talks with all telecom operators for a possible merger. If the two operators go for it, Zong might not have to wait until 2014 to become the industry’s second largest player.

Jun, however, smartly evades the question, “Warid is an important partner and we are doing lots of joint projects. If a merger can benefit both companies, we can think about it.” At the moment, he says the company is more inclined towards infrastructure sharing – which accounts for 50% of their expansion plan.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/485610/china-mobile-pakistan-making-quick-inroads-into-pakistans-cellular-market/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET blog post on India-Pakistan cricket series coverage in Pakistan:

Most of the population in Pakistan has access to a television (of any shape or size) and the advantages that it comes with. One of these being, cable TV. In fact, channels that come from across the globe dominate our ‘viewing time.’

Amidst numerous entertainment channels, mainstream channels that are solely dedicated to sports are Star Sports, Star Cricket, Ten Sports, Geo Super, ESPN and PTV Sports.

While it may be argued that the best cricket coverage and analysis is provided by Super Sports and Sky Sports, we have to admit that they have become less accessible to the mainstream cable providers over the years, and are only available after additional payment for these channels, or alternate cable TV packages.

So watching cricket matches with top class coverage, especially with the current Indo-Pak series underway is a national concern, with cricket being a rare unifying factor in our society today.

A cricket starved fan will tune in an hour before the game starts, to listen to what the experts think, what factors they think will drive the game, and what decisions will be crucial for the captain.

It’s a fascinating hour before the game starts. Veins pumping with adrenaline, you’re excited and all geared up and you struggle to watch as many people as you can on various sports channels broadcasting the game.

Different channels employ different methods to present sports shows.

Retired cricketers, cricketers who are still in action, and senior sports journalists and analysts are employed to conduct match analyses. Although, sports analysts tend to change with every new series, sports channels have managed to associate themselves with specific analysts.

For example the Channel 9 team that covers all Test Matches in Australia: Tony Grieg, Bill Lawry, Ian Chappel and Richie Benaud; lovable and exciting, crazed enthusiast, opinionated and controversial, and a statesman, in the same order respectively.

The Geo Super team for the Indo-Pak series is Sikandar Bakht, Yahya Hussaini and Hamid Mir; they are producing a combined Pak-India Takra with an Indian channel where Kambli, Inzimam, Prabharkar and Sharma are present....


http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/15476/leading-cricket-analysts-in-pakistan-aamir-sohail-ali-sanwal-and-dr-nauman/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a BBC report on TV matchmaking in Pakistan:



Matchmaking shows have been staples of Pakistani TV for several years now, with many couples choosing to seek romance and future partners under the full gaze of television cameras.

In a society where choosing partners has traditionally been the responsibility of family elders, many believe more modern paths to romance such as this, could slowly be changing attitudes.

However, televised weddings are still a controversial subject, as BBC Urdu's Iram Abbasi reports.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21451436
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Silicon Republic report on the future expansion of mobile telecom:

Emerging markets will be the key source of future mobile communications growth with 1.6bn new connections coming from around the world, out of which 61pc of these will come from Asia.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that bringing the next 1bn users online will be a major disruptive force for the industry. He unveiled the new Nokia 105 device, the first full colour device with internet and email connectivity that will cost less than US$15.

Elop said: “We believe that the next 1bn people are very young and very ambitious. For the very first time they are able to afford their own mobile phone, it is not a device they have to share with their family or the village. It’s their own.”

Manoj Kohli, the CEO of India-headquartered Bharti Airtel, the third largest mobile operator in the world with 261m subscribers in 20 countries, said that for every 10pc increase in broadband penetration in a developing country there is a 1pc increase in GDP.

He said there is a need for mobile devices that cost less than US$30 and mobile broadband dongles that cost less than US$10.

At the Mobile World Congress browser creator Mozilla revealed its Firefox OS that will be included on devices from LG, Huawei, Alcatel and ZTE to bring affordable smartphones into the hands of consumers in developing markets. Operators from America Movil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etilisat, Hutchison Three, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor, TMN and VimpelCom have undertaken to carry smartphone devices from the various mobile manufacturers who have committed to the new Firefox OS.

According to the GSMA, there are 3.4bn people on the planet today connected by mobile devices and this will grow to 3.9bn by 2017.

4G LTE will account for one in five connections in the world versus one out of every 25 in 2012.

The GSMA estimates that the industry is expected to spend US$1.1trn on capex in the next five years and will add 1.3m jobs around the world. The mobile industry’s contribution to global GDP between 2013 and 2017 as a result of its investment is expected to add up to US$10.5trn
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“Ovum forecasts that emerging markets will be the key source of future mobile connections growth, particularly in Africa and Asia-Pacific. Between 2012 and 2017, Ovum expects that there will be 1.6bn new mobile connections across the world, with 61pc of these coming from Asia-Pacific.

“While connections growth in Asia-Pacific will begin to slow towards the end of our forecast period, the region’s 4.4bn connections in 2017 will make it the greatest contributor to global connections. Growth in the Asia-Pacific region will largely be driven by the big three emerging markets of China, India, and Indonesia, which will have 3bn connections between them in 2017.

“While Asia-Pacific will generate the most new connections, Africa will be the fastest-growing region. African mobile connections will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5pc between 2012 and 2017, increasing from 683m in 2012 to 935m in 2017.

“While connections growth is important, the biggest issue for emerging market operators will continue to be around revenue growth and how to remain profitable with a customer base of low-ARPU users.

“Both Nokia and Airtel’s CEOs talked about the need for cheaper devices. The strategies of operators in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, and Tanzania demonstrate how telcos can operate in markets where ARPU is below US$3 per month.

“While the correlation between high ARPU and profitability is not absolute, operators still need to take action to improve the amount of revenue that they make from each connection. This is of paramount importance to operators in markets where ARPU will be less than US$5 per month in 2017,” Pawsey said.


http://www.siliconrepublic.com/comms/item/31667-next-1bn-users-central-to/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Telecompaper report on Pak SMS traffic in 2011:

Pakistani mobile users sent on average 175 SMS messages per month, or around 5.8 messages per day in 2011, Pro Pakistani writes citing a report from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. A total of 237.58 billion text messages were exchanged in 2011, up from 176 billion in 2010. Mobile operator Telenor generated the most person-to-person SMS traffic, contributing 26.5 percent of total traffic, followed by Mobilink with 26.4 percent, Ufone with 24.4 percent, Zong with 11.8 percent of SMS traffic, and Warid with 10.7 percent. Meanwhile Pakistani mobile users also sent 100.8 million MMS messages in 2011.

http://www.telecompaper.com/news/pakistans-sms-usage-up-to-2376-bln-in-2011--931883
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET story on the growing popularity of Android phones in Pakistan:

... QMobile – the first Pakistani mobile phone company – has introduced phones packed with high-end features at very competitive prices to the Pakistani market, and it seems to be doing great business.

This Karachi-based company was set up by Mian Pervez Akhtar of Allied Electronics Industries – an importer, assembler and distributor of LG products in Pakistan – around five years ago. According to our sources, QMobile’s revenues have witnessed a phenomenal boost since then: for the year ended June 30, 2012, its revenues stood at Rs761 million – up by a staggering 85.8% over the previous year.

However, the company operates with a different business model as compared to companies like Samsung and Nokia: although it calls itself a mobile phone company, QMobile does not manufacture its own devices; instead, it imports them from vendors in China, and sells them under its own brand. The same phones are sold in India for example under the Micromax label.

QMobile’s growth has taken measured steps. The company started with selling basic mobile phones: “Their low-end devices still account for most of their revenues,” an industry source says. QMobile has a large customer base in rural Pakistan, which accounts for more than 65% of the population. It entered the smartphone segment relatively recently.

Its product range now includes phones with touchscreen features, QWERTY input and WiFi-accessibility. It has also launched a series of smartphones powered by the Android operating system, which is the most commonly used smartphone platform today.

QMobile has built itself a strong image in the market, because it provides fairly high-end features at prices affordable for most Pakistanis: you can now buy a branded Android smartphone for as low as Rs6,500, complete with a warranty, thanks to QMobile. This may well be the primary driver behind QMobile’s growth.

“Basic phones constituted about 90% of Pakistan’s mobile phone market five years ago, but this equation is changing now,” an industry source said. “Consumers are shifting from basic mobile phones to feature phones and smartphones, and today they account for more than 20% of the market. Out of that, smartphones alone account for more than 10% of the market,” he said.

QMobile claims to be the number two brand in the country: and industry sources say that in the absence of any accurately verifiable numbers, this may be so in terms of the volumes of units it sells.

A heavy marketing campaign has also helped the company build a strong brand name. “QMobile is a success story, especially in terms of branding,” a telecom consultant said. Its advertising budget is higher than even that of market leader Nokia, an official revealed.

This is one of the main reasons behind the brand’s success. The company has even used product placement as an advertising technique to promote its products. Take, for example, Bulbulay: a primetime sitcom, which often promotes QMobile products, one source pointed out. “This kind of advertising does not cost much, and earns the company valuable marketing: that too in prime time hours,” he said. Moreover, QMobile has always used Pakistan’s hottest celebrities in advertising its products. Pop singers Atif Aslam and Abrarul Haq have promoted QMobile phones in the past. Iman Ali has modeled for them. Hugely popular television celebrity Fawwad Khan is now promoting their top-tier Noir smartphones. All these factors have helped QMobile make a name for itself as being in a league apart from the cheap Chinese copies of popular handsets currently circulating in the market.....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/532133/qmobile-conquering-the-pakistani-market-one-phone-at-a-time/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an AFP report on Pak election campaign on the airwaves:

RAWALPINDI: As Taliban bombs curtail campaign rallies, Pakistan’s political parties are ploughing millions of dollars into TV and print adverts to sway voters ahead of next week’s historic polls.

Competition is fierce but it’s a cash market and those with the biggest bucks get the most air time ahead of the historic May 11 polls, set to mark a key democratic transition, say television executives on condition of anonymity.

Bursting with colour, promising to fix the nation’s myriad ills, bust corruption and bring prosperity to voters, the “paid content” ads are broadcast day and night accompanied by the upbeat, nationalist jingle of campaign songs.

Unlike Internet access, which is still limited, more than 60 per cent of the 180 million population have access to TV, according to the Pakistan Advertisers Society.

For medium-sized channels, an average minute of advertising costs $460-500 during 6pm to midnight prime time or $250-300 earlier in the day, according to one television insider speaking on condition of anonymity.

There are around 80 channels in Pakistan, although the market is dominated by little more than a dozen with rolling 24-seven news coverage.

“On average a television channel airs up to five minutes of political ads an hour,” said the television insider.

The outgoing PPP gives prominence to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, showing footage of her 2007 assassination and anointing her son Bilawal – still too young to contest the vote – as the country’s future.

The main opposition and frontrunner PML-N lionises its leader Nawaz Sharif as a statesman and a developer, the man who knows how to fix the economy, the man beloved by a sea of flag-waving crowds.

Ads for cricket star Imran Khan – looking to make a breakthrough at the May 11 polls – offer voters a “new Pakistan” with his PTI party symbol – a cricket bat – swiping away the corruption and jettisoning the country into the future.

With Taliban threats against the main outgoing parties, Khan and Sharif are the only party leaders to address traditional public rallies in person.

Ad men consider the election a two-horse race in which the PPP – rudderless without Bhutto and her son too young to run for parliament – has deliberately taken a backseat, consigned to a stint in opposition.

“It’s PTI and PML-N who are the highest spenders,” said Bilal Agha, general manager for Dawn News television.

He said the Pakistan Broadcasters Association raised ad prices by 25 per cent and made political advertisements cash only. But the PPP is not doling out big money....


http://dawn.com/2013/05/03/pakistan-parties-channel-millions-into-ads/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of Express Tribune report on LG Electronics investment in Pakistan:

“We have decided to expand our operations by enhancing production capacities to capture growing consumer demand in Pakistan,” said DY Kim, President of LG Electronics Gulf, while talking to The Express Tribune on Thursday.
“Currently, our production in Pakistan is only limited to televisions and LCDs, but in a couple of months we will start producing other household items like microwaves and washing machines,” he added.
LG Electronics is a global leader and technology innovator in consumer electronics, mobile communications and home appliances with 117 operations around the world.
LG achieved global sales of $49 billion in 2011. It is offering products in four segments – home entertainment, mobile communications, home appliances and air conditioning & energy solutions.
In Pakistan, LG is increasing investment to enhance production capacity, but Kim did not divulge exact figure and only said it would be in billions of rupees.
The company is looking to compete with Samsung, which has increased its market share in recent years.
“We want to give consumers with some other option and we are hopeful this will not take much time,” Kim said.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/550418/lg-to-invest-billions-to-capture-pakistan-market/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report about free Wikipedia access for Mobilink's pre-paid customers:

Mobilink has launched Wikipedia Zero with the aim of providing its customers with free access to the world’s largest general reference database. The source will be available for Mobilink’s prepaid customers who will have free access round the clock to the full mobile version of Wikipedia. Mobilink customers will also be able to view these articles in Urdu on supported handsets.
Farid Ahmad, Vice President Marketing Mobilink commenting on the launch of Wikipedia Zero said, “As Pakistan’s leading mobile internet provider we are proud to partner with the world’s sixth largest website to offer our customers free access to Wikipedia.
We hope that our customers will enjoy browsing through Wikipedia on Pakistan’s fastest mobile data network.’’
The service is available for all new and existing prepaid customers free of cost by accessing Wikipedia at m.wikipedia.org OR zero.wikipedia.org from either their native mobile browser or through Opera Mini.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/05-Jun-2013/mobilink-brings-wikipedia-zero-to-pakistan
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Techinasia report on Telenor's planned investment in Pakistan:

Norwegian telecom group Telenor will invest $1.7 billion in Pakistan after acquiring a 3G spectrum, reports Propakistani. The massive investment, announced by Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas at a recent meeting with members of the Pakistan media, should have a large impact on the country; Baksass predicts that it will increase internet penetration and, by extension, the country’s GDP.

This new investment should be a boon especially for rural people who may not have internet access, as $700 million of it is apparently earmarked for spreading 3G networks across the country. Baksaas reportedly said that he expects this rollout to have a greater impact on rural residents than urban residents.

This is not Telenor’s first foray into Pakistan, the company has already invested more than $2 billion there. That shouldn’t come as a large surprise given that the company is one of Pakistan’s largest telecom operators, with more than 30 million subscribers in the country


http://www.techinasia.com/telenor-invest-1-billion-pakistan-3g/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET report on growing ICT use in Pakistan:

Pakistan has crossed a historical milestone. Elections were held on time, and for the first time in its 66-year history, a democratically elected government completed its term and handed over power to a new one. At the same time, the elections recorded a voter turnout unprecedented in recent years.
Much of this renewed political interest has been driven by Pakistan’s telecommunications revolution. Over 50 million voters verified their polling stations through their mobile phones and the elections were tweeted, blogged, and plastered across Facebook. In fact, the way I see it, the elections presented a major victory not only for Pakistan, but also placed a massive feather in the collective caps of telecom companies.

The Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Pakistan has registered a prolific boom in the last few years. With affordable pricing and 122 million connections showing mobile penetration at an all-time high, Pakistanis are amongst the highest SMS users in the world – the average Pakistani sends up to 178 text messages in a month.
And recent months have seen the launch of mobile financial services by various players, with transactions worth Rs3.76 billion via online banking already taken place.
Internet and broadband penetration is at a similar peak. According to World Bank statistics, by July 2012, Pakistan internet users showed a double-digit growth in the past five years and the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (Ispak) estimates that internet users have reached 25 million thanks to broadband and mobile phone operators.
Moreover, thanks to large organisations such as PTCL and Wateen Telecom, over 250 towns and cities across the country are now connected through an extensive fibre optic network.
Universal Services Fund
The government also intends to use approximately $700 million available with the Universal Services Fund (USF) to further develop the infrastructure and network that has already been put in place. The USF’s aim to “improve the working of the Universal Services Fund (USF) and utilise its resources to bridge the rural-urban digital divide and establish WiFi hotspots” is certainly a welcome one.
---------
Smart grids
The auction of licences itself will give an impetus to the economy and provide the government with FDI. However, the regulatory body will need to rely on more than just consumer uptake in order to achieve the scale necessary for sustaining growth. This means formulating policies that encourage the uptake of data services by vertical industries, for example solutions for smart grids.
Indeed, smart grids should be a top priority for the new government – not only will they enable growth and scalability within the ICT sector, they will also provide significant value for the power and energy sectors.
Currently, there are several pilot projects under way using cellular technology, however, according to industry leaders, cellular solutions for smart grids are not scalable.
Moreover, utility companies require constant data streams on their networks for telemetry, oscillography, usage and meta-data. Data usage is rapidly increasing and demand is likely to increase once 3G services are introduced.
Telecom operators, on whom electricity distribution companies currently rely, will likely be in a challenging position in the next few years as demand on their networks grows for ambient video and other data-heavy services.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/570485/the-future-of-ict-in-pakistan/
Riaz Haq said…
Even #Afghanistan has 3G. #Pakistan the only country in South Asia without 3G. Sad commentary on Pak "democracy" http://qz.com/142923
Riaz Haq said…
Here are World Bank reported highlights of the use of mobile phone technology in Pakistan:

The Punjab provincial government’s efforts so far include getting direct feedback from 3 million users of public services through SMS and providing field workers cost-effective smartphones to track their visits and collect data, including to monitor pests on crops, fighting dengue, and managing waste.
A recently-approved project will scale up these activities using innovative financing that emphasizes results, takes a multi-sectoral approach, and increases transparency and citizen access to information, improving citizen-state relations.
This model of innovative and sophisticated mobile governance is almost unprecedented in the public sector in developing countries, and represents one of the largest-scale attempts to hear from citizens to crack down on corrupt and poor performing officials.


http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/12/11/leveraging-mobile-phones-for-innovative-governance-solutions-in-Pakistan
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a story on a Pakistani journalist in small town America:

The workday was done, and I gave Malik a ride to his hotel. Before he disappeared through the doors of the Embassy Suites, he smiled and asked me to wait. He had something for me.

He returned from his room and presented me with a sleeveless jacket and wool cap -- the kind commonly worn by men in Pakistan, his homeland, where he would soon be returning after three weeks in Charleston and the Gazette newsroom.

Yaqoob Malik is a reporter -- an investigative reporter, as he will proudly tell you -- at an English-language paper called Dawn in the Attock area of Pakistan.

Earlier this year, he and several hundred other Pakistani reporters applied to the International Center for Journalists, which was arranging a State Department-funded trip to the U.S. and a chance to work with and observe an American newspaper.

Only 20 of the applicants made the cut. It was literally the opportunity of a lifetime for Malik (as he prefers to be called).

But while the other journalists drew assignments at big newspapers in New York, Miami and so on, he was being sent to Charleston, a place none of them had heard of, and the smallest town on the list.

This drew some good-natured ribbing from a few of the others and left Malik a bit crestfallen.

But, as Malik describes it, when he landed among the hilltops at Yeager Airport, each sporting its showy autumnal best, he knew that he would have the last laugh.

And while many of the larger newspapers brought their visitors along slowly, in true Gazette fashion, we threw Malik right into the fray. He published a story in the first few days of his visit, before any of the others, and from there, he was off to the races.

"I only have (fill in the blank) days left here," he would tell me the minute he finished each story and asked for another. "I want to do as much as I can."

Malik covered local Muslim issues, focused on people in our area of Pakistani descent and wrote columns about the political situation in his homeland.

His command of English and the written word were certainly better than my Urdu, but his stories, as you might guess, needed a good deal of editing and explanation in order to bring the West Virginia audience up to speed on his topics.

As I worked with him on the stories, so began my Pakistani education.

Malik was supposed to be here learning from me and the others at the Gazette, but it soon became clear that my schooling on Pakistan, its people and the obstacles facing its reporters was just as thorough, if not greater, than what he took away.

On a recent weekend morning, as I stood in my kitchen drinking a cup of coffee, I heard my phone chirp. It was an email from Malik. He had sent me the story he had filed for Dawn that day.

It was full of protests and beatings, anger and death. Reading it from the serene safety of West Virginia, I quickly realized that my new friend was in a spot neither serene, nor safe.

Pakistani journalists risk their lives to tell the truth. Government and police protections are nearly non-existent. Kidnappings and assaults of journalists are rampant.

Malik shrugs off the fact that his home was ransacked a few years ago.

"Sometimes, my children will ask, 'Why, Papa, do you have write that?'" he said, but he soldiers on, performing a service absolutely crucial to the advancement of his country.

While he was here, Malik would often marvel at how beautiful Charleston is, how friendly its people are, how calm life is here. For him, it was the perfect place to carry out his American assignment, and it likely won't be the last time he sees the West Virginia hills, if he has his way.

He plans to bring his wife and children for a visit to Charleston next summer.

So, until then, stay safe, my friend.


http://www.wvgazette.com/Opinion/201312290031
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a PakistanToday report on mobile telecom growth in Pakistan:

The voice and SMS ratio per subscriber per month has also notably improved as average cellular mobile subscriber in Pakistan,is making voice calls of 203 minutes per month whereas, generating 214 SMS.

An incredible growth of 43.97% in voice traffic average per user has been witnessed while growth of 7% in SMS use per subscriber was noted during the period.
-------------
The attractive tariff packages with unlimited call offers and discounted minutes have helped generate a record national cellular mobile outgoing traffic of 294.2 billion minutes during year 2012-13. The cellular mobile national outgoing traffic to cellular network has shown a tremendous growth of 52.51% as compared to the same period of previous year 2011-12 in which 192.9 billion minutes were generated. Each passing year has been showing a reasonable growth as the total national cellular mobile outgoing traffic was only 76 billion minutes in 2009-10 and 137.7 billion minutes in 2010-11.

As per new figures issued by regulator Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the massive growth in national cellular mobile outgoing traffic was also contributed by new subscribers in the cellular network during the year and very attractive packages offered by cellular operators to win the subscribers from each other.

Lucrative cellular tariff packages with unlimited call offers and discounted minutes have become a major attraction for the cellular subscribers as the cellular mobile operators adopted aggressive promotional strategies offering attractive packages for Voice, Data and SMS, including free calls and unlimited SMS.

These marketing tactics resulted in more business for companies mainly from voice calls and SMS. Both the voice and SMS traffic has risen during the 2012-13 owing to bundled packages and SMS offers.

During 2012-13, a record 315.7 billion SMSs were exchanged by the mobile consumers, showing an increase of 13.68% from previous year, though the growth rate is lower than corresponding period of previous year but the total figure of SMS exchanged is impressive.

The figures further showed that the national outgoing traffic from mobile to fixed networks remained very low as compared to traffic from mobile to mobile networks. This was mainly due to low tariffs being offered on the same network by operators as well as the huge difference in cellular and fixed line subscriber numbers.

The international outgoing traffic from cellular network has also witnessed a gradual increase and shown a healthy growth of 17.92% by June 2013 contrary to sharp decline of 28.69% for the same period of 2011-12.

The international incoming traffic on cellular networks somewhat declined and showed a negative trend of 10.02% for the year 2012-13 as compared to the year 2010-11. The decrease in international incoming traffic could be due to increase in Access Promotion Contribution (APC) change during 2012-13 from 1.25 US cents to 2.90 US cents, which discouraged Long Distance International (LDI) operators to offer lower settlement rates to attract additional incoming traffic in the country.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/01/pakistanis-made-294b-minutes-mobile-calls-in-2012-13/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of a NY Times Op Ed by Bina Shah on new media censorship in Pakistan:

But having experienced decades of political oppression and dictatorship, Pakistanis are used to finding alternative ways to get access to and spread information. So when YouTube was shuttered, they started using proxies to gain access to it, while also uploading to other video-sharing sites.

Of course, the government began blocking the most popular proxies, but couldn’t always keep up. Even today, YouTube occasionally becomes accessible on some Internet providers for a few hours.

In any event, young Pakistanis, having been raised on satellite television, the Internet and smartphones, already have an insatiable thirst for information and the public space in which to think freely. So their appetite has been whetted, and many of them now are challenging the establishment’s societal mores.

“We are building a movement of defiance among the youth and larger Internet users by providing them tools to circumvent the government’s policy of censorship,” says Shahzad Ahmad, the country director of Bytes4All, an organization of young Pakistanis who use digital technology to promote human rights and sustainable development.

Since 2012, Bytes4All has been petitioning the Lahore High Court for a writ against the ban on YouTube, and lately the issue has become dramatically politicized; Mr. Ahmad has accused government lawyers of threatening that if YouTube is opened, there will be “bloodshed on the streets of Pakistan.”

Anusha Rehman Khan, state minister for information technology and telecom, was ordered to appear at a hearing in March, but failed to show up; it was the third time she had done so. Instead, lawyers from banned religious outfits appeared in court, an indication of how far the government would go to sway the judges and intimidate Bytes4All.
---------
Alongside the legal battle, an irreverent social media campaign called #KholoBC has also emerged. Engineered by the Pakistan for All movement, a collective of young Pakistani tech enthusiasts, it features a song released by the Pakistani musician Talal Qureshi, the rapper Adil Omar and the comedian Ali Gul Pir with lyrics too rude to print in this newspaper. (So is a translation of the campaign’s name.) Ziad Zafar, the head of Pakistan for All, says the vigilante-style campaign has been successful on social media, and has struck a nerve in the government: A senior figure in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the party of Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister, complained to Ali Gul Pir about being “mocked” in the video.

Officials repeatedly assure the public that YouTube will be unblocked soon, even as the government tries to build a huge firewall modeled on the one in China. It’s a cat-and-mouse game that speaks volumes about the impossibility of damming up an ocean, but also about the amount of energy the government is willing to expend trying.

Technology-savvy Pakistanis are determined to thwart the government’s dreams of a toothless Internet, even though, as Mr. Ahmad says, “In Pakistan, there will always be a reason to block the Internet.” Needless to say, any videos that are part of the movement have to be posted on Vimeo, Dailymotion and other sites, because they still can’t legally be seen on YouTube.


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/11/opinion/shah-trying-to-dam-a-digital-sea.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET story about Pakistan teledensity near 76%:

The country’s total mobile phone subscriptions reached an all-time high of 137.68 million at the end of April 2014, corresponding to a cellular mobile teledensity of 75.6% for the first time, according to the latest data released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
The PTA statistics revealed that each of the given cellular mobile operators (CMOs) were able to increase their subscriber base – collectively selling 1.2 million new connections in April 2014.
Telenor Pakistan and China Mobile (Zong) were once again the highest contributors to the growth of country’s mobile phone subscribers.
Telenor Pakistan sold 665,591 new connections during the month under review, taking its overall subscriber base to 35.87 million. The Pakistani arm of the Oslo-based cellular giant holds 26% share in the country’s cellular subscriber base, only two percentage points behind market leader Mobilink.
Mobilink maintained the top place, growing its subscriptions to 38.3 million after adding 145,941 new subscriptions to its network. Its share in the cellular segment is 28% as of April, 2014, the data revealed.
Zong, the Pakistani subsidiary of China Mobile, also continued its positive growth by selling 387,527 new connections in April and finished at number three with 25.98 million subscriptions. It now accounts for 19% of the country’s telecom subscriptions – just one percentage point above Ufone that slipped to number four with a market share of 18% or 24.6 million subscribers at the end of April, 2014. It sold only 2,435 new connections during the review period.
Warid Telecom, the smallest player in terms of subscriber base, sold 11,831 new connections and finished with a market share of 9% or 12.95 million subscriptions, according to the latest statistics.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/715949/breaking-records-cell-phone-subscriptions-soar-to-all-time-high/
Riaz Haq said…
MasterChef Pakistan, which took the country by storm and had everyone glued to their television screens, has been nominated for the prestigious 19th Asian Television Awards (ATA) and has become the first Pakistani reality show to be nominated for an international accolade.


The show has been nominated in the 'Best Adaptation of an Existing Format' category. Other nominees in the category include:

Asia's Next Top Model Cycle 2 (Hong Kong)
The Brain (China)
Junior MasterChef Swaad Ke Ustaad (India)
The Apprentice Asia (Asia)
The Voice of the Philippines (Philippines)
Trinny & Susannah's Makeover Mission India - Murphy and Kanika (Singapore)
The ATA aims to reward hard working individuals in the media industry all over the continent. According to the official ATA website, this year has seen 239 nominees, across 38 categories, sprawling over 13 countries – and MasterChef Pakistan is one of them.

The 2013 ATA was televised regionally on STAR World and Channel [V], FOX International Channels leading general entertainment channel and music channel, respectively, reaching to some 28 million households in over 10 countries, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Macau, Middle East and some other smaller Asian markets.

Chef and Executive Asst. Manager Khurram Awan of Movenpick Hotels Karachi and celebrity Chef Zakir Qureshi and Chef Mehboob Khan are the judges on MasterChef Pakistan. The show is an intense, competitive cooking reality television game show based on the original British MasterChef.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1145514/masterchef-pakistan-nominated-for-asian-television-awards
Riaz Haq said…
Until 2002, Pakistan’s broadcast media was a narrow field; it had one radio station, Radio Pakistan, started in 1947 and one state-owned television channel, Pakistan Television, started in 1964; both were mouthpieces for officially slanted information, alongside privately held print media dominated by three major consortiums: the liberal Jang Group, owned by the media magnate Shakeel ur-Rahman (this group now owns the broadcast and web outlet GEO); the Nawai Waqt Group, which treads a right-wing line, and the English-language Dawn Group, the most moderate of the three (the newspaper Dawn was founded in 1941 in Delhi, India, by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of Pakistan’s independence movement, to promote the moderate ideals of his Muslim League).
---

Then, in 2002, Gen. Pervez Musharraf decided to open Pakistan to the global flow of information in order to reverse decades of isolation. He allowed private television channels and FM radio stations to obtain licenses, setting off a media boom. Their reporting during the conflicts that followed 9/11 and spilled over into Pakistan allowed these television channels to flourish, taking viewers away from state media in favor of more independent reporting.

Ironically, General Musharraf himself forced GEO off the air temporarily in 2007 when the channel criticized his suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. But today, out of office, the general once again flirts with the media as he tries to return to politics.

The media have grown to 40 news channels, 143 radio stations, and hundreds of national and regional newspapers. For that they are often called “vibrant.”

Another descriptor is “vulgar.” On prime-time television, news is sensationalized, with ratings the first consideration; alongside hysterical reporting are thrilling or tragic music and crude, insensitive graphics; virtually everything is “breaking news” in no hierarchy of importance. Meanwhile, large corporations like ARY and the Lakson Group have acquired media companies after discovering that controlling media can protect their corporate interests.

Advertisers get huge influence over what’s published or aired. Advertising breaks are frequent, and banners for commercial products run incessantly. Advertising also dominates front pages: one major newspaper group recently gave front-page ads prominence over headlines on all of its papers.

Meanwhile, the government still seeks to control the media; Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority wants an existing law amended to permit “de-linking” of television channels from their satellites if they broadcast “objectionable” or “unwanted” material.

While many in the media retain editorial integrity in the face of these pressures, Pakistani media houses have yet to come up with an industrywide code of conduct or self-regulatory body. Nor have they been able to stay unbiased. Often they blatantly take sides in political conflicts, even while describing themselves as protectors only of the public good.

So, what is the way forward? Ensuring the safety and security of Pakistani journalists is the best starting point; the industry’s foot soldiers need more training, as well as job tenure and pensions. Forming unions is another necessity, as well as creating a framework of regulation that offers protection against state and corporate pressure.

But what Pakistan’s media needs most is a unified sense of its own professional conscience, so that it can continue to thrive as it fulfills its ultimate duty to Pakistanis: to report the news free from bias and influence, while telling a good story that will catch citizens’ attention.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/26/opinion/bina-shah-journalism-in-pakistan-fear-and-favor.html?_r=0
Riaz Haq said…
The number of journalists in Pakistan has jumped from 2,000 in 2002 to 18,000 in 2015, according to Houston Public media report.

Marina Marri is an editor at the Express-Tribune. She’s part of the growing workforce of reporters in Pakistan. The number of working journalists here has jumped from 2,000 in 2002 to 18,000 in 2013.
There’s a lot of growth in Pakistan’s journalism, particularly on the TV side, along with a lot of energy from journalists.
An example is Marina Marri, editor of the Express-Tribune. The journalists there have been resilient and tenacious in the face of violence.
And Marri not only manages a newsroom, but also plays soccer.
In order to keep fostering new generations of journalists in the country, there’s an effort to start up a Master’s Degree and the U.S. has a strong role in it.
We invite you to listen to Laura’s latest dispatch above.
She is participating in a fellowship for reporters sponsored by ICFJ— the International Center For Journalists. Think of it as a student exchange for journalists.


https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/2016/10/02/171768/us-invests-millions-in-journalism-training-in-pakistan-for-public-diplomacy/
Riaz Haq said…
#Islamabad #ChaiWala (tea-seller) is instant #socialmedia sensation in #India, #Pakistan. Signs modeling contract

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/19/blue-eyed-tea-seller-arshad-khan-becomes-social-media-sensation-in-india-and-pakistan

A blue-eyed tea-seller from Islamabad has scored a modelling contract after featuring in an Instagram post that went viral.

Even more unlikely, the 18-year-old’s picture topped trending lists across Indian social media, warming an icy patch between the neighbours that has included calls for Pakistani actors to be banned from the Indian film industry.

Photographer Jiah Ali snapped the chai-wallah at a bazaar in the Pakistani capital on Sunday. Her Instagram post spread to Twitter and Facebook and kicked off a search for the name of the vendor.

He was identified on Tuesday as Arshad Khan, a teenager from Kohat district, who had been making tea at the Itwar Bazaar for three months.

Khan told the Dawn newspaper his first inkling of the scale of his fame was when he spotted local boys with flyers depicting his face. He was also mobbed by media outlets clamouring for an interview.

He told local media he was flattered by the attention but, ever the professional, said he preferred people not to shoot his picture while he worked.

On Wednesday a savvy online retailer, Fitin.Pk, seized on Khan’s sudden fame to sign him up to model a range of its clothes.

His picture – and posts swooning over it – were shared worldwide across social media, including in India, where ire towards the Pakistani government is running high after militants in Kashmir killed 19 Indian troops last month.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan eyes $150m after direct-to-home (#dthb ) #DISH broadcast system (#dbs ) #television license bidding

http://www.dawn.com/news/1297065/pakistan-eyes-150m-after-direct-to-home-broadcast-licence-bidding


Pakistan is expected to attract direct investment of at least $150 million after the Nov 23 bidding for three direct-to-home (DTH) broadcast licences.

A top official of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) told journalists that 12 companies, including three foreign operators as part of local consortiums, had been shortlisted to bid for three DTH licences. The licences would be valid for 15 years.

Terming DTH a game-changer for the electronic media industry in Pakistan, the official said it would offer quality services and a wider range of choice to consumers and a lucrative revenue source to the economy’s managers. It would also end the monopoly of a few analogue cable operators.

It would not end the cable operators’ business, he said, but would compel them to invest in technology and their distribution systems.

Pakistan has close to 25 million electronic media subscribers and between three and five million consumers use Indian DTH illegally. Once the licensing process goes through, subscribers of Indian DTH would have to shift to the local network.

Foreign channels will get landing rights to come under the local regime through a regulatory process and launching of new local satellite channels will be allowed.

The official said that the current analogue distribution system offered a maximum of 80 channels while the DTH would increase the capacity to 250. Each local DTH licence holder is expected to have at least 500,000 subscribers.

A Chinese company is currently in the process of completing formalities to set up a factory for set-top boxes (STBs) for transmitting broadcasts to homes. The initial cost of an STB to consumer would be around Rs3,500 which could be recovered by DTH operators in instalments. Monthly subscription would be around Rs550.

“This will be the biggest investment in Pakistan’s electronic media history,” the official said. The conservative investment estimate of $150m was based on feasibility studies of shortlisted firms. It could go up to $250m after the three licence holders expand operations in the next two years. These estimates do not include bidding proceeds that would start with a base price of Rs200m for each licence.

The licence holders would employ 1,500 people directly and the move would open up indirect job opportunities for 15,000 people in the next two to three years as DTH penetration increases, he said.

Of the firms shortlisted, Startimes Communications Ltd would have 49 per cent shareholding from a Chinese operator, Parus Media and Broadcast Ltd will have 49 per cent stake from a Russian operator and Smart Sky Ltd (partially owned by PTCL’s foreign shareholders) would have a foreign shareholding. The official said that the law did not allow majority shareholdings to foreign firms, so 51 per cent stakes would have to be controlled by local partners.

Other shortlisted firms include Orient Electronics of Lahore, Mag Entertainment of Lahore, IQ Communication of Karachi and six firms, Skyflix, Sardar Builders, Nayatel, Mastro Media Distribution, Shahzad Sky Ltd and HB DTH, from Islamabad.

Riaz Haq said…
Reporters Without Borders: "#Pakistan #media among the freest in #Asia". Still ranks it 139 out of 180 in the world
https://www.voanews.com/a/fear-of-militants-and-state-actors-hampers-press-freedom-in-pakistan/3828031.html


A press freedom index released by Reporters Without Borders this week has called Pakistani media among the freest in Asia. Yet, the same index has listed the country as number 139 out of 180 countries for press freedom, far behind its war torn neighbor Afghanistan, which is at number 120.

The reason, many Pakistani journalists explain, is that they have the freedom to report some issues, but others are considered red lines.

Pakistan always had private print media, albeit with various levels of censorship during military dictatorships and the intermittent periods of elected governments.

But the advent of private electronic media in early 2000s, ironically during the tenure of a military dictator General Pervez Musharraf, changed the landscape. Dozens of live 24/7 news channels started competing with each other for breaking stories and getting scoops.

The country has witnessed a boost in transparency and accountability, especially in the field of governance. Officials often find themselves fielding tough questions from the media. Talk show hosts interrogate politicians on live TV every night.

But the same journalists steer clear of issues that might offend either militant Islamists or the country’s powerful military.

Threats and violence

“Pakistani media faces both threats, state actors and non-state actors, and they are equally ruthless,” said Rana Jawwad, the news editor for Geo news, a popular TV channel.

Journalists in Pakistan have been attacked and murdered with impunity, according to the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists. The government has often promised investigations into violence against journalists, but few culprits have been brought to court, let alone convicted.

Government representatives were unavailable for comment for this report, despite repeated requests.

Journalists living in the tribal areas in the country’s north, for example, face threats from the militants and the security forces fighting them. Many have fled the area or given up their profession. Similarly, journalists anywhere in the country are afraid to discuss issues that might offend the Islamists, like the persecution of certain minority groups or the controversial blasphemy laws.

Reporting on a separatist insurgency in the restive Balochistan province is considered particularly sensitive. Human rights groups have published numerous reports accusing the country’s intelligence agencies of kidnapping, torturing, and killing Baloch nationalists. But the issue is almost non-existent in the otherwise vibrant media discourse. Foreign journalists are not allowed to travel to Balochistan without prior permission.

The only sphere considered safe enough to raise such a sensitive issue was social media, but that impression was shattered when several bloggers who wrote progressive posts disappeared.

“That was a shock for all of us, and the way it had happened because of political expression, that was also very shocking. So the results were fear all around,” said Shahzad Ahmed, country director for Bytes for All, Pakistan, a digital rights advocacy group.

They eventually re-appeared after sustained protests, but most refused to name their captures.

One of them, Waqas Goraya, shared his experiences at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

He believed he was detained because he ran a satirical Facebook page that was critical of the military’s role in politics and in Balochistan.

In an interview with the BBC, he said he was detained by a “government institution” linked to the military and was tortured “for pleasure.”

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