Zafar Siddiqi, CEO of CNBC's Arab-world franchise CNBC Arabiya, has announced the impending launch of CNBC Pakistan, with headquarters in Karachi.
With a team working currently out of Dubai and another in Pakistan, the new channel is in the last stage of negotiations for its license and the senior team is poised to come on board. Once up, the channel will run 24/7, in Urdu and English.
The development comes against a background of major changes in Pakistan's television landscape, with the first three private channels (GEO, ARY, and Indus) launched some eighteen months ago. If Pakistan's parliament removes the existing legal barriers to cross-ownership in the media, as it is expected to do in the near future, the doors will be flung open to new initiatives in satellite television. Already, according to Siddiqi, about 30 non-print companies, and all Pakistan's dozen or so print companies, have applied for licenses.
And there is an even broader context that excites Siddiqi. If relations continue to improve between Pakistan and India, Siddiqi sees great potential for live cross programming with sister network CNBC India, which Siddiqi describes as "hugely popular." "We've been in constant communication with CNBC India obviously as a CNBC affiliate and with other CNBC networks to see how we can develop this opportunity and when it comes. This would be a huge plus," says Siddiqi.