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Pakistan govt orders stop to late-night call packages

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority issues directive to mobile operators after receiving complaints about late-night call advertisements sent to customers, which went against the country's social norms and values.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has ordered mobile phone service providers to immediately discontinue service packages offering cheap calls made late at night.

According to the government agency, the directive was issued because the opeartors were promoting "vulgarity" and such service packages were against "social norms" and the country's "values", The Times Of India reported Wednesday. Several mobile phone companies in Pakistan offer "late-night packages" which allow users to make calls at a lower rate, compared to calls made during the day.

PTA Chairman Farooq Awan said they had received a number of complaints from the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Parliament's Standing Committee, and subscribers regarding the "promotion of vulgarity" through advertisements and asked  mobile operators to immediately discontinue packages and present compliance reports.

The telco authority took action after a meeting with regulatory heads of mobile phone companies who "unanimously admitted" their advertising was "not in line" with the moral values of society, the statement said. One telecom company acknowledged during the meeting it issued a warning letter to value-added service providers which sent out SMS messages to users to publicise the late-night call packages.

Liberalization and tough competition in Pakistan's mobile market have pushed operators to introduce promotional packages, but as long as practices "against social norms" are not encouraged, operators are free to continue providing better services to users at affordable rates, the PTA said.

The regulator also cracked down on packages under Pakistan's Reorganization Act, which gives it the power to regulate competition in the telecommunications sector, protect consumer rights, and ensure the interests of users are protected.

Pakistani authorities last month blocked some 20,000 Web sites including YouTube for hosting controversial materials such as footage from the anti-Islam movie "Innocence of Muslims". 



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