Ather Kirmani

Ban on channels

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Jammu and Kashmir State witnessed number of bans on the local television channels. Some of the bans in the past have given a death blow to the growing trade in Kashmir Valley. Soon after 2008 and 2010 uprisings, the government imposed ban on the news and current affairs programmes of all local television channels and made them almost defunct. Now in the Governor’s administration in the instructions of the Central Government, all the private television channels and cable operators have been told not to telecast more than 30 channels most from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Apart from the owners of these cable networking sites, Civil Society, Kashmir Bar Association and Separatists have said that it was a ban on the freedom of expression in Kashmir Valley.

The Government made it clear that the issue of permitting or not permitting telecast of any TV channel is not within the purview of the State Government and the state has no role in it.  The powers to permit or not permit telecast of any TV channel are vested with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India and not with the State Government. State’s Home Department said while responding to the news reports emanating in a section of the media in this regard.  He said any TV channel operating within the ambit of the law should approach the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to obtain the necessary permission. The circular instructions regarding non-permission of telecast of certain TV channels are not new.

The decision in this regard was initially taken in May, 2017 and the original instructions to all District Magistrates were issued on 06-05-2017 whereby the District Magistrates were instructed to take this action against Cable TV Operators transmitting non-permitted channels. The communication issued on 02-07-2018 is only a repetition and reiteration of the earlier instructions in this regard.  He said the Home Department issued a repeat circular on 02-07-2018 addressed to all District Magistrates asking them to take action according to legal provisions wherever it is found that certain TV channels which are not permitted by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India are being transmitted.  The communication has a list of such non-permitted TV channels annexed to it.

Government clarified that the issue of permitted and non-permitted TV channels is not within the domain of the State Government but entirely with the Government of India.  These permissions are given by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting according to provisions in law. The list of permitted TV Channels is available on the website of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

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