Choking Channels

News Kashmir Exclusive

 

In a development that has disappointed many the Jammu and Kashmir government has asked cable television operators in Srinagar, the state’s summer capital, to stop airing 30 channels broadcasting programmes based on news and religion. It said the move was necessary for the “maintenance of peace and tranquillity” in the region. As a matter of fact , Most of the channels are based in Pakistan, Iran,   and Saudi Arabia. J&K has been under Governor’s Rule since June 20 following the resignation of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who quit after her People’s Democratic Party-led government collapsed after losing  the support of its alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party

“It has become necessary and expedient in the larger interest of public and maintenance of peace and tranquility to prohibit you from transmitting non-permitted TV channels (which are not permitted by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India),” Srinagar’s additional district magistrate said in an order passed on July 12 in response to a communication from the state’s home department.

On the otherhand,  magistrate issued notices to cable networks SEN Digital Network and K9, quoting the department as saying that they were telecasting “unpermitted or banned” private satellite channels within the jurisdiction of the district.

Cable Tv operators haveen asked to close around 30 channels including Geo, ARY, QTV, Hadi TV, Karbala, Paigam, Peace TV Urdu, Noor, Sehar, Madani, Saudi Quran, Saudi Sunah and many other religious channels.

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Cable TV operators and masses have criticized the decision and termed it as a move aimed at choking them.“More than business loss, this ban will curb viewers’ choice. People will question our credibility once the Islamic channels go off-air especially since Hajj  is approaching fast. On one side we face the government directive and on other hand  strong public demand for these channels puts us in a catch-22 situation” said Amjad Noor, president of Cable operators association adding that thousands of people are associated with the cable TV business in the Valley.

Pertinently, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat Conference also criticized   government for imposing a ban on the transmission of 30 channels operating through cable saying this diktat to cable operators is nothing but a move to block information and keep people of Kashmir away from the day to day happenings across the globe.

“It is surprising to see that even religious and sports channels have been banned and one would ask as to how such channels can pose a ‘threat to peace’ in Kashmir,” a spokesperson of the amalgam said in a statement.

He said in the present times of globalisation and the age of technology and social media, such gags and bans to block information are bound to fail and only reflects the “myopic and dictatorial” approach of authorities.

Definitely the decision to ban these channels is evoking criticism and negative reactions from several quarters.

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