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Bengal govt officials to check if TV shows upset communal harmony

The decision comes after communal flare-ups in Basirhat and Baduria in North 24 Parganas district last year, and Asansol and Raniganj earlier this month. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee also expressed her displeasure over “multiple marriages” and “conspiring relatives” in TV serials.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2018 14:54 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
West Bengal,Cable operators,Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also urged broadcasters and MSOs to share a part of their profit with the cable operators.(HT FILE PHOTO)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said her government will soon appoint a nodal officer in each district to check, along with the police, whether any TV programme can upset communal harmony.

Speaking at a cable operators’ function, which saw representation from broadcasters and multi-system operators (MSO), the chief minister said programmes portraying communal tension or violence can be extremely harmful.

“While I request the broadcasters to refrain from broadcasting such programmes, I also feel the necessity of appointing a nodal officer in every district, who will maintain a liaison with police and cable operators,” Mamata said.

During the communal flare-ups in Basirhat and Baduria in North 24 Parganas district in July last year and Asansol and Raniganj earlier this month, the state government ordered local cable channels to suspend broadcasting news programmes to contain what it alleged was rumours and allegations that stoked passions in communities.

The same strategy was adopted in the hills in north Bengal last year during the Gorkhaland tension.

The West Bengal chief minister also expressed her displeasure over some “negative” aspects that have become the fodder of most of the TV serials. “These days, television serials mean multiple marriages of a person or conspiring relatives. I request all to think about this issue,” she remarked.

At Friday’s programme at Netaji Indoor Stadium, the chief minister also urged broadcasters and MSOs to share a part of their profit with the cable operators.

“I request the broadcasters to realise lower charges from the MSOs. This will, in turn, help the MSOs to share a part of their profit with the cable operators, who are struggling to make both ends meet,” she said to applause from thousands of cable TV operators.

Mamata also announced the formation of a committee chaired by the state law and labour minister Malay Ghatak. The committee will also have representations from cable operators, broadcasters and MSOs.

After a cable operator from South 24 Parganas district complained about the paltry sum they get from MSOs, the chief minister called MSO officials on the dais and held a small meeting in a corner.

After a few minutes, she announced the formation of the committee.

She also announced some additional dole-outs from the state government. She said cable operators and their families will be included under the state’s health insurance scheme.

The chief minister also promised to bring the cable operators under the pension scheme, where they will be entitled to a monthly pension after they reach 60 years of age.

First Published: Apr 21, 2018 14:54 IST