Channels such as Peace TV that aired the sermons of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik were banned by the information and broadcasting ministry at least half a decade ago. But they continue to be beamed into a large number of drawing rooms in the city through small cable operators, according to the cable operators’ associations.
“We have warned our members to abstain from showing banned channels. But some cable operators continue to show channels such as Peace TV, Hum TV, QTV and Madani Channel,” said Vinay Patil, chief adviser with a cable operator’s association in Mumbai.
The operators do it under pressure from viewers and get away owing to the police’s ignorance, he said. But a senior IPS official said the police keep a tab on airing of banned channels. “The violations mostly take place under pressure from certain religious communities,” the officer said.
The I&B ministry has published a district-wise list of nodal officers with their mobile numbers on its website so that viewers can report such offences. “All you need to do is pick up the phone and expose such offenders. We do not encourage airing channels that might lead to communal tensions,” said Roop Sharma, president of the Delhi-based Cable Operators’ Federation of India.
A section of Muslim youth that did not approve of Naik’s preaching said the ban made little difference. “There are several clips of his talks online. It is very easy to download and circulate them,” said Hunaid Khan, an engineering student.