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Majority Prefers Satellite Channels 

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Gallup Pakistan has been conducting regular surveys and polls to monitor satellite channels’/cable viewership in the country and its effects on the society at large.
In 2005, 74% of Gallup’s respondents claimed that they viewed satellite channels/cable, whether they had cable/dish at home or not. Comparatively, 25% stated that they did not view satellite channels or cable. Amongst those who did have a television at home, 68% had cable, 5% had SPTV, 2% borrowed a lead from a neighbor to watch satellite channels and 28% claimed that they did not do anything to view them.
These queries were repeated in April 2006. Back then, 61% of the people admitted that they viewed satellite channels or cable. Amongst those who viewed satellite channels, 90% had a dish or used cable, 2% used SPTV and 4% borrowed a lead from a neighbor. In those households where a lead or cable was available, 59% had a cable connection as compared to 41% who did not. As far as those who did have a cable connection are concerned, 43% stated that their monthly expenditure on cable was less than Rs. 200. 55%, on the other hand, claimed that their expenditure on cable stood between Rs. 200 and Rs. 300 month.
The respondents were also questioned about the influence of cable on the society in this survey. In return, 64% felt that its influence on the society was a negative one as compared to 32% who thought that cable had a positive impact on the society. 4%, on the other hand, said that they did not know. When asked to list the positive aspects of viewing cable, 45% identified increased access to information, 15% said that one could view more religious channels and 13% considered it to be a good leisure activity. 17% did not give a definite opinion. Similarly, the people were also inquired about the negative effects of cable. In response, 25% said that it has increased shamelessness and obscenity in the society, 15% considered Indian channels as a bad influence, 2% were of the view that it had driven people away from religion and 9% felt that it had harmful effects on children and the youth. 7% considered the movies and songs shown on cable as trashy and substandard and 5% identified the clothes worn by artists on these channels as shameless. 5% also said that there were no harmful effects of cable and 7% said that they did not know.
A similar survey was conducted towards the end of 2006. In that survey, 66% of the people said that they had a cable connection in contrast to 34% who did not have access to cable at their homes. When asked about the reasons for not having a cable connection, 68% replied that it was because they disliked some of the channels broadcasted on cable and 19% said that it was too expensive. When those who did not have a cable connection were asked if they would have one in the next six months, 89% replied in the negative and 9% replied in the affirmative. 2% of the respondents were unsure. On the other hand, those who did have a cable connection were questioned about its monthly charges. 30% stated that they paid up to Rs. 150 per month, 50% paid between Rs. 150 and Rs. 200 per month and 13% paid more than Rs. 200 per month. 7% stated that they did not know.
In 2007, 75% of the people said that they viewed cable/ satellite channels, even if they did so occasionally or even if they did not have access to them at home. 81% did so through cable, 4% used a dish, 7% borrowed a lead from a neighbor, 2% used SPTV and 5% used some other means. Amongst those who did have a lead or cable available to them, 87% had a cable connection while 12% did not have a cable connection. The figures stated in the last sentence suggest that the number of households which have a cable connection has increased over the past few years.
While the increasing trend of watching satellite channels and/or cable is good news for private television channels it is also an indication of increasing clutter on the television. It is becoming more and more difficult for television channels to get their message across to the audience. The converse it also true. Given the vast array of information available to them, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to both digest this information and to glean out the more authentic and reliable news.
These surveys and polls were conducted by Gallup Pakistan, an affiliate of Gallup International, on a sample of over 1100 respondents in urban areas of all four provinces of Pakistan. This sample was statistically selected across all ages, income groups and educational levels. The error for a sample of this kind is estimated to be +/- 5% at a 95% confidence level.

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