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General News Govt to crack down on broadcast of Peace TV
[Image: Govt_to_crack_down_on_broadcast_of_Peace_TV_Te.png]MUMBAI: In the wake of unauthorised transmission of Peace TV, which is run by Mumbai-based Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, the government has warned of taking strict action.

Beaming from Dubai, Peace TV is available on many distribution platforms despite not having the licence to broadcast its programmes in India.

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has issued an advisory to all DTH operators, multi-system operators (MSOs) and local cable operators (LCOs) to immediately stop transmission of TV channels, including Peace TV, that have not been permitted by the government.

The advisory has come in the wake of the ongoing probe into the activities of Peace TV in connection with the recent terrorist attacks in Bangladesh.

Taking note of security threats due to TV content aimed at inciting communal and terrorist violence, the advisory has specifically named Peace TV. “Reports are being received of such content being broadcast through private satellite TV channels, such as Peace TV channel, which are not permitted by this Ministry for downlinking into the country. lt may be noted that the role of your state government in this regard is crucial in preventing any broadcast or transmission of such non-permitted channels by the cable operators,” the advisory stated.

The MIB, which has issued advisories through email as well, has asked the Home Ministry to keep track of any broadcasting of Peace TV and report to the I&B ministry. Action can be taken against cable operators for re-transmission of the channel by the district- and state-level monitoring committees. Incidentally, Peace TV’s application in the past has been rejected by the government.

“I saw the speeches made by him (Naik) and also the telecast of the particular channel (Peace TV). Today, I made enquiries with my officers. It is a matter concerning security of our country and social harmony,” Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told The Indian Express.

Malaysia and a few other countries already have a ban in place. “The I&B ministry is trying to get information from those countries as to what action they have taken and under what provisions,” Naidu told the daily.

I&B Secretary Ajay Mittal has already written to chief secretaries of all states to crack down on broadcast of unauthorised channels as per the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, The Indian Express reported.

The televangelist’s institution, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), is on the watch list of the Home Ministry for alleged misuse of foreign funds to finance radical activities. An investigation has been ordered into the activities of IRF, which was registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

Citing Section 5 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, the advisory said that “no person shall transmit or re-transmit through a cable service any programme unless such programme is in conformity with the programme code”.

Quoting Rule 6 of the Cable Television Network (CTN) Rules 1994, the advisory stated that the nature of contents prohibited from being transmitted or re-transmitted have been given in the programme code.

Sub Rule 6(6) of the Cable TV Rules specifies that no cable operator shall carry or include in his cable service any television broadcast or channel which has not been registered by the central government for being viewed within the territory of India, the advisory said.

The MIB advisory said that transmission or re-transmission of any TV channel in violation of Section 5 of the Cable TV Act read with Rule 6(6) by any cable operator is an offence which would attract action by the government.

“It has come to the notice of this ministry that some private satellite TV channels which are not permitted by this ministry are being transmitted by some cable operators on their networks. This is a clear violation of Sub-Rule 6(6) of the Cable TV Rules under programme code and need to be acted upon immediately,” the advisory stated.

“All MSOs and LCOs are, therefore, advised to ensure that no unauthorised TV channels are transmitted by them in their networks. In case of violations, necessary action will be taken against the defaulters,” the advisory stated.

A free-to-air (FTA) channel, Peace TV broadcasts television programmes in English and Urdu. It is received in 125 countries worldwide, including many parts of Asia, Middle East, Europe, Africa, Australia and the US.


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Peace TV Saga: 24 TV channels identified unfit for telecast in 2015 by India

[Image: Indian_Television_Dot_Com_Peace_TV_Saga_24_TV.png]NEW DELHI: As some South Asian countries scramble to plug loopholes to stop re-transmission of unlicensed TV channels in the aftermath of Dhaka massacre perpetrators being allegedly influenced by Peace TV sermons, India identified 24 channels as not fit for telecast in 2015.

Peace TV from Dubai and as many as 14 television channels from Pakistan figured in a list of 24 channels that India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) identified as ‘not conducive to the security environment in the country’ in 2012.

The list included Pakistani channels like PTV, PTV Home, PTV World, Geo TV, Dawn, Express, Waqat, Q TV, Madni TV, Noor TV, Hadi TV, Aaj, Filmax and STV.

Out of the other ten, there were two from Nepal (one identified as Nepal, and the other as Kantipur), one channel each from Bangladesh (NTV Bangladesh), Maldives (TV Maldives) and Bhutan (Bhutan Broadcasting Service), and the United Kingdom-based Ahmedia Channel.

The other channels were from Arab countries like Saudi TV, while the Indian security agencies had not disclosed identities of two channels, ARY TV and XYZ TV.

These TV channels were denied downlinking licences by the Indian government. However, industry observers maintain some of the aforementioned channels continued to be available illegally on some networks in some parts of the country owing to “pressure from local cable TV subscribers and lax or indulgent policing.”

Last week, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) warned distribution platforms against re-transmitting unlicensed TV channels, including Peace TV, in India and said action under law will be taken against defaulters.

Interestingly, junior minister at MIB Rajyavardhan Rathore informed Parliament in December 2015 that the ministry had formulated a detailed guideline for setting up of state and district level monitoring committees to oversee content transmitted by India’s 60,000-odd cable operators with a view to curb illegal channels.

These committees, comprising various cross sections of the society, were intended to aid and advise authorized government officials in ensuring compliance of the provisions of the Cable TV networks Regulation Act, Rathore had said in Parliament.

This Ministry had proposed certain amendments in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 too to address the problem of illegal telecast of foreign channels.

The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Second Amendment Bill 2011 containing these amendments was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 15, 2011 and was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee concerned for examination. The Committee opined that the proposed amendment to the Act would be redundant in view of the proposed complete digitalization of cable networks. The Bill was introduced in the 15th Lok Sabha but lapsed following the dissolution of the House.

Cable Organisations Support Govt Action

Meanwhile, reacting to the warning issued by MIB against distribution of unlicensed channels like Peace TV, National Cable and Telecommunication Association (NCTA) President Vikki Choudhri said he had flagged this issue with the government several times in the past.

A letter from NCTA to the government in January 2008 had highlighted some distribution platforms carried on their networks unlicensed foreign-based TV channels in India.

Choudhri was of the opinion that “strict action’ was the only way to stop such irregularities and added in August 2010 had also advised the police on seven local operators who were telecasting such unlicensed channels.

Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) President Roop Sharma said she had been, from time to time, sending out advisories to Federation’s LCO members to guard against re-transmitting TV channels that were not permitted by the government and did not have proper landing rights in India.

“All you need to do is pick up the phone and expose offenders. We do not encourage airing channels that might lead to communal tensions,” Sharma added, urging viewers too to come out and complain against such illegal TV channels.

All India Aavishkaar Dish Antenna Sangh President A K Rastogi reiterated his industry colleagues’ stand saying MIB had laid down strict guidelines in this regard and any violator should be “punished” without any discrimination.

Maharashtra Cable Operators Foundation (MCOF) president Arvind Prabhu said that the foundation had asked all member MSOs at various times to ensure such illegal channels were not re-transmitted.

Pointing out that “any MSO or LCO who is a real Indian at heart will immediately switch off these channels if they are being shown", Prabhu told that the number of MSOs who might be showing such channels was “miniscule”.

Bangladesh Bans Peace TV

Reliance Industries Ltd-owned English news channel CNN-News18, meanwhile, reported that Islamic preacher Zakir Naik collected large amounts of money in the name of his UK-based charity Islamic Research Foundation International and later diverted it to Peace TV.

The CNN-News18 investigation has also revealed that Mumbai-based Harmony Media prepares production content for Peace TV and that the offices of the production house and Naik’s Mumbai NGO were located in the same building in Mumbai.

In a related development, PTI reported from Dhaka that Bangladesh government on Sunday banned the broadcasting of India-based controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s Peace TV.

The decision to ban Peace TV Bangla was taken during a special meeting of Cabinet Committee on Law and Order, PTI reported, quoting Bangla Industry Minister Aamir Hossain Amu who chaired the meeting.


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