Cable television certainly was a gamechanger in Pakistani media. More affordable than the expensive “dish” technology, it brought international programming to Pakistani homes, further encouraging the eventual freeing up of the news media. Many give former President Musharraf the credit for opening of the channels but it was, frankly, an idea whose time had come.
Does the Direct To Home (DTH) scheme of things spell a similar tectonic shift? The Supreme Court has recently overturned a Lahore High Court decision that was a stumbling block in the auctioning of DTH licences.
The cable operators are obviously miffed. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles. They won’t be the first demographic in the history of the world to be undone by Creative Destruction. Though the DTH regime won’t automatically and immediately kill off the cable operators.
The advantages, many. First of all, the reception is going to be far more crisp than the fickle now-grainy-now-passable quality that we get at the moment. An escape from the “larrka aa raha hai” placebos that one gets upon complaining to the neighbourhood cable operator.
Furthermore, arm-twisting is going to be a little difficult. We won’t be able to see the effortless manner in which Geo was effectively forced off the air. The DTH system can also bring the channels some much needed non-advertising revenue.
Alas, this might be an instance of too little, too late. We should have auctioned off these licenses back when India did. In the US, “cable cutting” is an ongoing phenomenon. But the “cable” here isn’t to be confused with our. There, it is sort of interchangeable with the DTH here. You see, many American millennials are ditching traditional television broadcasting methods altogether and heading out online.
With the eventual advent of 5G and subsequent network bandwidth technologies and ever cheapening of the said bandwidth, television itself is going to die out.