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Currently, there are 60,000 cable operators in the country, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Photo: Mint
Currently, there are 60,000 cable operators in the country, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Photo: Mint

Govt cracks down on unauthorized TV channels

The centre asked the state governments to take action erring cable operators who continue to show unauthorized TV channels

New Delhi: In the light of recent reports on television content inciting communal and terrorist violence, the Union information and broadcasting ministry (I&B) on Friday advised local cable operators, multi-system operators (MSOs) and direct-to-home platforms to stop the broadcast of television channels that are not permitted by the ministry.

The ministry also asked the state governments to take action the against erring cable operators who continue to show unauthorised TV channels.

“It has come to the notice of this ministry that some private satellite TV channels which are not permitted by this ministry are being transmitted by some cable operators on their networks," the ministry said in an advisory. “lt is therefore essential that broadcast or transmission of such non-permitted channels is stopped immediately by the cable operators and DTH operators," the advisory said.

MSOs run large cable distribution networks. Currently, there are 700 MSOs and 60,000 cable operators in the country, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India reports.

The ministry in another advisory further requested various state governments to ensure that the TV channels which are not permitted by the government are not being transmitted by any cable operator. The advisory added that authorized officers in various districts should take action against violators to stop transmission of the unauthorized channels.

“In addition, this ministry has from time to time advised all state governments to constitute state and district level monitoring committee for broadcast content monitoring," the ministry said. 

As per the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, authorized officers can seize the equipments or take punitive action against the defaulters. The authorized officer within local limits of jurisdiction is defined as a district magistrate, additional district magistrates, a sub-divisional magistrate, a commissioner of police or any officer notified in the official gazette by the central or the state government.

The advisory comes soon after the Bangladesh terror attack on a café that is said to have been inspired by the speeches of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik that were aired on Peace TV.

Peace TV is a free-to-air channel that is broadcast globally from Dubai and is not authorized to be aired in India. According to the list of permitted private satellite TV channels as on 31 May released by the ministry, 890 channels are authorized to air their content across the nation and Peace TV is not one of them. However, the cable operators have reportedly been broadcasting the channel on their networks.

“We have time and again received complaints of Peace TV being aired in certain smaller cities like Bhopal and we have often requested cable operators to stop airing the content that is unauthorized," said Roop Sharma, president of the Cable Operators Federation of India.

Sharma added that the federation will try to ensure that government’s notification is followed across the nation. “We will spread the word around. It is in public interest," Sharma said.

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