Don’t Ban Them
There is more than what meets the eye in banning of some satellite television channels in Jammu, by the District Magistrate; at least this is what seems so far. The district administration, Jammu on Saturday issued a notice to cable operators seeking information if they had the permission to air some satellite channels based in Pakistan. The notice brought within its net eleven televisions channels including four channels that air religious content. The channels that were immediately taken off the air by the cable operators included QTV, ARY, PTV Home, PTV World, Geo, Dawn, Express TV, Waqt, Noor, Hadi, Aaj TV and Peace TV. Of the eleven, four are purely religious that besides propagating Islam as a religion of peace, brotherhood and tolerance emphasize on inculcating human values in the society. Ironically all the channels that have been stopped from beaming their programmes are not based in Pakistan; some of them are based in UK and Dubai and are not only owned by Pakistani but also by Indian Muslims. The ban on satellite channels, especially on Islamic channels has rightly evoked a serious criticism amongst the Muslims of the region. Some Muslim leaders of the province have called it discriminatory as similar channels of other faiths continue to beam their programmes.
It is pertinent to mention here that the cable operators in Jammu have been beaming these channels for past five years without even invoking any criticism from the chauvinistic and extremists organizations. The Muslim leaders of Jammu have rightly challenged the government action of dictating people what to watch and what not to. The banning of television channels that too those spreading message of religious tolerance, communal harmony and love for humanity speaks volumes about the contradictions within the government. On the one side the government is drum beating about people’s right to information and on the other blocking the same.
The government in 2008 had taken a similar action in Srinagar baning some international satellite channels. Then an order was issued by the District Magistrate, Srinagar under instructions from Government of India prohibiting all cable operators from beaming Pakistan Channels that include PTV, GEO, Aaj, ARY and others. The District Administration at that time, in its enthusiasm to follow the instructions from New Delhi, beside Pakistan television channels banned cable operators from beaming internationally recognized news channels, like Press TV and Aljazeera. The ban that was ordered under section 3 of Cable Networks Regulations Act was widely condemned. It was seen as reenactment of jamming reception of all television channels other than Doordarshan in Kashmir, in 1990 under the orders of the then governor of the State.
One wonders what prompted District Magistrate Jammu to ban these channels, when ostensibly there are no instructions from the Government. The action on the face of it has vitiated the atmosphere in Jammu province, and to many has communal overtures. This arbitrary action of the District Magistrate is not only uncalled for but also fraught with the danger of spreading sense of alienation in more than forty percent population of the province.
There seems also no justification in banning television channels from the other side of the border. The Pakistan Television was watched in Jammu much before the satellite channels found reception. Equally, there was no ban on satellite channels in Jammu when war of attrition between India and Pakistan was at its peak. Blocking information achieves nothing substantial, instead always breeds misunderstanding and mistrust amongst the people. The Pakistan channels besides being an alternative source of entertainment have been keeping people informed about the happenings on the other side. Largely these channels have been reporting objectively; recent example could is were Pakistan Television Channels very candidly reported the 26/11 incidents in Mumbai.
The up shot of the matter is that it is an unwise and imprudent decision to ban Islamic channels and other satellite television channels in Jammu at a time when India is seen a champion of free flow of information in the world.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 26 Apr 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 26 Apr 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 27 Apr 2010 00:00:00 IST
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