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Indian govt warns against re-transmission of Peace TV illegally

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Ministry of Information and Broadcasting-MIB

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Even as reports came that the Government is initiating a probe into how Peace TV is being beamed into the country, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) issued an advisory today asking all MSOs, cable operators  and DTH platforms against transmitting any un-authorized TV channels on their networks.

Drawing attention to reports of “security threats due to TV content aimed at inciting communal and terrorist violence”, the government advisory said, “Reports are being received of such content being broadcast through private satellite TV channels, such as Peace TV channel, which are not permitted by this Ministry for downlinking into the country. It is, therefore, essential that broadcast or transmission of such non-permitted channels is stopped immediately by the cable operators and DTH operators.”

Peace TV, twice denied landing rights in India earlier, airs sermons of Mumbai-based tele-evangelist Dr. Zakir Naik.

The government warned that necessary action would be taken for any violations against defaulters.

A Press Trust of India (PTI) report, separately, quoted home minister Rajnath Singh as saying that reports regarding Mumbai-based Zakir Naik, his sermons on Peace TV and the Islamic institution run by him have been taken note of and action will be taken as per law.

Meanwhile, MIB sources said that the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Intelligence Bureau would be asked to probe how the channel is beaming into the country.

The sources, who said that the channel had been denied permission twice to beam into India, added that the MIB would take the help of the External Affairs Ministry to approach the countries in west Asia from where the channel was being beamed.

The government advisory to Indian media pointed out that non-permitted TV channels are in violation of the sub-rule 6(6) of the Cable TV Rules under programme code and “need to acted upon immediately”.

Section 5 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, amended in 1997,  states no person shall transmit or re-transmit through a cable service any programme unless such programme is in conformity with the programme code. In the Cable Television Network (CTN) Rules 1994, framed under the Cable TV Act, the nature of the contents prohibited to be transmitted or re-transmitted are given in the in the programme code under Rule 6 of these Rules.

Sub Rule 6(6) of the Cable TV Rules specifies that no cable operator shall carry or include in his cable service any television broadcast or channel, which has not been registered by the Central Government for being viewed within the territory of India.

The advisory said that a list of the private satellite TV channels permitted by the government was available on the website of MIB at www.mib.nic.in.

Transmission or re-transmission of any TV channel in violation of the Section 5 of the Cable TV Act, read with Rule 6(6), by any cable operator is an offence which attracts action against the operators by authorized officers.

The Central government advisory has been sent to various State governments too.

Naik and his Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) came into limelight after a Bangladeshi newspaper, quoting local government officials, alleged that his sermons influenced the people who killed 20 people, comprising mostly foreigners, in Dhaka few days before Eid.

According to Peace TV’s website, peacetv.in, on which its schedule is available, the channel is beamed off at least a dozen satellite transponders to reach viewers  in more than 200 countries.

Its English HD feed is available off AsiaSat7 at 105.5 degrees East and off Arabsat BADR 4 at 26.0 degrees East. AsiaSat 7’s C-band transponders have coverage over South East Asia, West Asia, Asia and Australasia, while Arabsat BADR 4 allows it to reach out in Africa, West Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of Europe.

The channel also has an India region targeted specific transponder on Intelsat12 at 45 degrees east. Indian government officials think that some cable operators and MSOs, probably, are latching on to this beam and (illegally) retransmitting Peace TV following requests from subscribers.

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