The government on Friday dismissed as “wrong” controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s allegation that Peace TV was denied broadcasting rights for being “Islamic” and said such discrimination never has or will exist in the country.
Information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the channel, run by Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation, was denied the rights for “not fulfilling due conditions”.
“One allegation was leveled that Peace TV was denied permission for being Islamic. No such discrimination existed in India in the past, [and] will never be there in future. These are wrong allegations,” he told reporters, adding that the allegation was for Naik’s own promotion.
Speaking to the media via Skype earlier in the day, Naik alleged that his channel was denied permission for being “Islamic”.
Naidu said the owners of Peace TV had applied for a licence to broadcast the channel in 2008, but the ministry of home affairs turned it down after due consideration.
When the owners applied again in 2009, the home ministry sought details such as directors and funding of the channel, he said.
“They did not submit the details. So, there was no question of giving it permission. There is no question of banning a channel, which doesn’t have permission,” he said.
On the information and broadcasting ministry’s role in the matter, Naidu said it had only written to states, alerting them on taking action against those who downloaded the channel in an unauthorised manner and transmitted it “as it was against law”.
“This happened in 2008 and 2009. We are in 2016 now. This clears the situation. In 2012 too, the MHA had sought their details...for whatever reasons...someone may have approached it then. Those details they (the owners) could not furnish. That’s the end of the story,” Naidu said.
According to the minister, the owners had applied as Supreme Multi Network Private Ltd to download the TV channel in current affairs category. The channel was permitted to be up-linked from Dubai at the time, he added.