Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has announced that his ministry is all set to launch Pakistan’s first OTT (over-the-top) platform. An OTT media service is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet. OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the companies that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.
In a tweet, the Minister said: “We at the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) are all set to launch Pakistan’s Version of Netflix,” adding that the technology part of the initiative is complete.
Chaudhry further said that he has directed PEMRA to “prepare a guideline on content” following which the platform will be launched in PPP (public private partnership) mode.
Speaking exclusively to The Current, Fawad said that his ministry will provide content creators with the technical support – such as compression technology – they need.
As far as the content on the platform is concerned, the Minister said that PEMRA has been directed to classify content keeping in mind international standards.
“Our aim is to put Pakistani content on the map and PEMRA has been asked to prepare guidelines keeping in mind the international market,” said Fawad, adding that with internet freedom, censorship is unlikely.
He also said that content on the platform will be different from what we usually see on television.
When asked what the payment process will be like given that the majority of Pakistani don’t have credit cards, Fawad said that the payment process will be simple and viewers will be able to pay through their mobile phones.
A new streaming platform will open new doors for Pakistani filmmakers and content creators giving them creative space and liberty. According to a recent report, Netflix has over 180 million subscribers worldwide, but only 100,000 in Pakistan as most Pakistanis do not have credits cards to pay for the service. This is one of the primary reasons why Netflix has not attempted to commission original Pakistani content, besides “weak storytelling, flawed screenplays and scripts that don’t meet international standards”.
India, on the other hand, has about 40 providers of OTT media services including Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus.
Pakistan forayed into the digital world just recently with Churails, that was released on Indian streaming platform Zee5.
Senior PTI leader Senator Faisal Javed Khan, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Information Broadcasting and Heritage, lauded Fawad for his initiative.
Meanwhile, noted actors including Shaan Shahid, Humayun Saeed and Asad Siddiqui thanked the Minister for taking the initiative and introducing such platforms in Pakistan.
“It’s time we make our presence in the entertainment arena of the world,” said Shaan, while Humayun said this will “open doors of opportunities for many many talented people and eventually help Pakistan reach a truly global audience.”
However, Osman Khalid Butt remarked that PEMRA should not be allowed to prepare a content guideline for the platform.