Ban on TV channels deprives people of informative content: Kashmir Inc

Chairman Kashmir Economic Alliance, Muhammad Yasin Khan said that the ban was “aimed at demeaning Islam, which is actually a religion of peace”.

Kashmir Inc representatives on Friday said that the ban imposed by Jammu and Kashmir home department on transmission of more than 30 “unpermitted” television channels in the Valley in the name of regulation deprives people of informative and apolitical content.

Representatives of various trade and commerce umbrella bodies told Greater Kashmir that the ban on popular TV channels from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and Middle-East will also have an adverse impact on thousands of people associated with the cable TV business.The latest ban came into force after an order was issued by the additional district commissioner (ADC), Srinagar on 12 July, 2018, which was sent to heads of cable operators in Srinagar, asking them to stop telecasting and transmitting “unpermitted and banned private satellite channels”. The government order had asked the operators to prohibit from transmitting channels not permitted by the Union ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

 “The gag must be condemned as most of these channels are predominantly religious or news channels with a huge following among viewers of Kashmir,” said Javid Ahmad Tenga, president Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “In case it is felt that some channels are a threat to peace and tranquility of the state, they can be identified and banned, but we see no reason to prohibit the transmission of channels related to religion and news”.

Tenga said the chamber will raise the issue of ban on religious channels with the I&B ministry. “The government should identify particular channels which pose a threat and the rest of the channels should be allowed to be transmitted. The ban infringes upon the religious freedom of common people and the state Government is requested to take up this issue with I&B Ministry as well,” he said.

Tenga said thousands of people are associated with the cable TV business across the Valley, adding that the ban will hit this sector badly. “Large number of employment is generated in this sector and such prohibitions would adversely impact livelihood of thousands of people,” he said.

Chairman Kashmir Economic Alliance, Muhammad Yasin Khan said that the ban was “aimed at demeaning Islam, which is actually a religion of peace”.

Khan said the government decision has hurt the religious sentiments of the people in Kashmir. “By banning the Islamic channels, the government has sent a wrong signal to the world community. On one hand the Government of India claims to be improving ties with the Islamic countries, whereas religious channels aired by the same nations have been banned here,” he said. “One wonders what kind of threat there is from channels which propagate peace and universal brotherhood.”

TV channels which as per the government order are to be banned include Peace TV English, Peace TV Urdu, ARY QTV, Madni Channel, Noor TV, Hadi TV, Paigam, Hidayat, Saudi Al-Sunnah Al-Nabawiyah, Saudi-Al-Quran Al-Karim, Sehar, Karbala TV, Ahli-biat TV, Message TV, Hum TV, ARY Digital Asia, Hum Sitaray, ARY Zindagi, ARY Musik, TV One, ARY Masala, ARY Zauq, A TV, Geo News, ARY News Asia, Abb Takk News, Waseb TV, 92 News, Duniya News, Samna News, Geo Tez, Express News and ARY News. Apart from religious and news channels, the list includes a sports channel, two culinary channels, and a music channel. 

Kashmir based cable operators have threatened to shut down operations in case the ban order is not revoked. “How is it possible that Saudi-based channels such as Saudi Sunnah, Saudi Al-Quran and Iran-based Karbala TV which just telecast religion specific content or a cooking channel popular among women will incite violence? We are ready to take news channels off air but asking us to ban apolitical content is unjustified,” said a leading cable operator.