New Delhi: The Link between Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s discourses on his Peace TV and militants involved in deadly Dhaka terror attack has forced the I&B Ministry to crack the whip on MSOs and LCOs carrying the feed of unlicensed channels in their Cable Network.
Zakir Naik’s speech on Peace TV and related developments has brought into focus the loopholes in the country’s broadcast regulatory framework. Though many channel like Peace TV does not have a licence to broadcast in India, it continues to be beamed unhindered via cable operators. The issue had come under the scanner following the Bangladesh terror attack. Investigations have revealed that the terrorists were inspired by Naik’s speeches aired on his channel. The channel, which reportedly uplinks from Dubai, is easily available across the subcontinent.
Concerned over unlicenced channels running amok, the I&B ministry has stepped up heat on states to rein in cable operators and multi-system operators. Highly placed sources said on Wednesday that the ministry was planning to circulate a list of licenced channels and ask district collectors and SPs to ensure compliance.
“Punitive action will be taken against those who are found to be in violation and are broadcasting unlicensed channels. State authorities, district collectors and others have been told to monitor such cable operators,” a source said. Ministry sources also said that any evidence that unlicensed channels were being shown would be taken up on priority.
The I&B ministry, through state police, can seize equipment and take punitive action against cable operators under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2011 if a cable operator is found violating the programme code. The code stipulates that content beamed by cable operators should not “contain attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes” or “contain anything affecting the integrity of the nation”.