Bangladesh's Ekushey Television off air as of Thursday

MUMBAI: Ekushey Television (ETV), Bangladesh's first private terrestrial television channel, went off air on Thursday. The ETV's terrestrial broadcast was shut down by the government at 5:00 pm after the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld a High Court Division verdict declaring the license of the ETV illegal.

At 10:50 pm, ETV went off air following a formal announcement, Bangladesh's Daily Star has reported . However, it is contemplating filing a writ against the government's stopping the telecast.

The Appellate Division yesterday dismissed the review petitions filed by the ETV and the ETV chairman and the foreign investors. A seven-member full court of the Appellate Division chaired by Chief Justice Mainur Reza Chowdhury delivered the judgement at 11:35 am, according to the Star.

On 27 March, the High Court declared the ETV's licensing agreement illegal following a writ petition made by individuals supporting the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party that the station did not win its license fairly during the regime of the earlier government. On 2 July, the Appellate Division rejected a leave to appeal petition by the ETV, upholding the High Court verdict that the ETV license was illegal. However, the court stayed the verdict for five weeks and then for three more weeks leaving the scope to file a review petition.

Three years ago, the channel commenced broadcast as both a terrestrial and a satellite channel. In 2000, a petition was filed against it by members sympathetic to the governing coalition led by the BNP. It questioned the manner in which ETV topped the list of parties when international bids were invited for setting up a private television channel in the country in 1998.

Lawyers for the station, which is backed by the American banking firm Citicorp, had argued that if the licensing process is found to be defective, it could be replaced by another. Citicorp has invested over 100 million Tk in the venture.

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