Civil society networks for Elections 2013

a. Monitoring of the pre-Election phase is already being conducted by reputed civil society networks and associations such as the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) whose members include several NGOs with extensive contacts amongst communities in all four Provinces.

b. FAFEN has already announced that with its member organizations and the co-operation of citizens on a voluntary basis, as many as about 43,000 persons will monitor local, constituency-level activities related to campaigns by political parties and candidates. This co-operative arrangement will enable accurate monitoring of non-mass media promotion such as posters, banners, leaflets, stickers, etc.

c. These civil society networks will also enable monitoring of the in-house “CD” TV channels that are operated by virtually each of the over 3159 cable TV distributors licensed by PEMRA.

Whereas PEMRA has, as of February 2013, issued licenses to 89 satellite TV channels (34 news channels of which 27 are actually presently broadcasting, the remaining number i.e. 55 channels being entertainment, sports, other categories etc. 26 foreign channels have been given licences for `landing rights’ i.e. permission to be distributed and viewed in Pakistan).

PEMRA has also issued licences to 171 FM Radio channels including commercial and university campus channels. But, the actual total number of TV channels operating in Pakistan amount to over 15,000 because each Cable TV Operator/Distributor has permission to operate four or five “CD” TV channels on which the Operator screens mostly pirated films from Bollywood, Hollywood or legally-obtained content and advertising!

d. However, by monitoring the “Head-end” cable TVdistributors who re-distribute satellite TV signals to several “Loop” holders /”line”-holders, the logistical task can be reduced in scale.

e. The Commission recommends that ECP encourage credible civil society networks to help strengthen the role of impartial and independent media in Elections 2013.