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Govt to crack down on broadcast of Peace TV
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, Urdu, Bangla and Chinese. It is received in 125 countries worldwide, including many parts of Asia, Middle East, Europe, Africa, Australia and the US.
A medical doctor by professional training, Naik is the president of Islamic Research Foundation, Mumbai. He launched Peace TV English in January 2006. Peace TV Urdu was launched in June 2009, Peace TV Bangla in April 2011 and Peace TV Chinese in December 2015. He has plans to expand the Peace TV Network to cover the ten major languages of the world.