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Zakir row: Govt cracks the whip on telecast by unauthorised channels

india Updated: Jul 08, 2016 22:54 IST
Zakir Naik

Supporters shout slogans and hold placards during a protest march in favour of Islamic scholar Zakir Naik in Srinagar on Friday. (PTI)

The government decided on Friday to crack the whip on telecast by unauthorised channels, warning cable operators of action if norms were violated, a move that comes amid the escalating controversy over Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s speeches on ‘Peace TV’.

Information and Broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu convened a meeting here where issues related to telecast of “umpermitted” TV channels, including ‘Peace TV’, were discussed.

Emerging from the meeting, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said there are reports that channels are being broadcast which are not licensed.

“I&B ministry issues license to some channels, only those channels are allowed to be broadcast by MSOs and cable operators. We are issuing advisories to district advisory committees and also to the state monitoring committees that they should cleanly observe the cable operators what they are broadcasting.

“Any content being broadcast in violation of the guidelines, action will be taken against them to the extent that confiscation of their entire broadcasting equipment,” Rahore told reporters.

He said the Ministry of Home Affairs has been asked to keep track of any such broadcast and report to the I&B ministry for appropriate action. Social media would also be used to receive any complaints against unauthorised channels.

He said the government was acting keeping in mind reports of content on ‘Peace TV’.

“We discussed any objectionable content that is being broadcast beyond the permission given to broadcasters including ‘Peace TV’ that you are referring to,” Rathore said.

Naik, whose speeches are aired by ‘Peace TV’, is a controversial Islamic preacher and some of his speeches were reported to have inspired some of the Dhaka attackers.

Official sources said ‘Peace TV’ does not have the required permission to be broadcast in India despite which it is distributed by some cable operators.

“The channel had applied for a license in 2008-09 but was refused. However there have been reports that it still is beamed by some cable operators,” a senior official said.