Taj Opposes Govt Move

Taj Opposes Govt Move

15 January 2012
Greater Kashmir
Umer Maqbool

Srinagar: While Jammu and Kashmir government is contemplating to lift more than year-long ban on telecast of news by local cable channels in the Valley, senior cabinet minister Taj Mohiuddin Sunday came out openly against the proposed move saying that he will take up the matter with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah “if any such decision is in pipeline.” “I have not heard of lifting ban on telecast of news by local cable channels. And if there is any such move, I will oppose it and take up the matter with the Chief Minister. I stand for banning these channels as they violate ethics and cause nuisance. Everybody cannot become journalist and these cable operators openly violate ethics of journalism through non-professionalism,” Taj told Greater Kashmir. Taj also accused cable news channels of fomenting trouble in Kashmir during 2008 and 2010. “They fuelled most of the trouble during these two years and they should not be allowed to telecast news,” he added. Pertinently, the divisional administration on Saturday said that the Government has decided to review the ban on cable news. “We have not taken any decision on lifting ban as of now. We will review it. If cable operators do not indulge in misinformation and disinformation campaign, government has no problem (to lift the ban). However any decision taken would not apply to foreign news channels banned in Kashmir,” Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Dr Asgar Samoon had told Greater Kashmir. Samoon had further said the situation in Kashmir has “improved considerably.” “Under Right to Information people have right to know about the happenings around them. The cable channels have been a source of entertainment for people. (But) these days people usually get news through newspapers. The cable operators (in Kashmir) can focus on local issue of public importance which national new channels and other regional channels do not perform,” he had said. As already reported by this newspaper, the issue of lifting ban came up for discussion during the review meeting taken by the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, in the run-up to the preparations for January 26 celebrations here. During the said meeting, the Divisional Commissioner, sources said, asked the District Development Commissioner Srinagar to summon all the cable operators of Kashmir and discuss the issue with them provided they assure to strictly follow the broadcasting rules and regulations. Pertinently, the state administration had invoked the ban on local TV channels for allegedly violating the Cable Television Network (Regulations) Act, 1995, while telecasting the news. The ban was first invoked in both regions of the state during 2008 following land transfer agitation. While the ban on Jammu-based cable channels was lifted soon, in Kashmir the cable operators had to wait for almost a month. However the issue did not die there. In 2009, as the Valley protested alleged double rape and murder in Shopian, cable news operators were asked to reduce the airtime of news. They complied without complaining and found themselves back on air as soon as the crisis was over. But the worst followed in 2010. During the 2010 summer unrest, in which more than 115 youth were killed, cable operators were issued several ‘advisories’ to ‘tone down’ their coverage followed by a missive directing all local channels to slash airtime of news and current affairs shows from 24 hours to a mere 15 minutes, at a stipulated time every day. However as the situation deteriorated in the Valley, the channels were asked to stop telecasting news altogether. ‘BAN VIOLATED IN BARAMULLA’ PTI ADDS: Meanwhile, the state government has taken strong exception to some cable operators' airing of news and current affairs programmes in Baramulla district despite a ban imposed on them on this count. Official sources said that deputy commissioner of Baramullah has been directed to check reports that three cable channels - Kashmir-24, North Televisions (NTv) and Wadi News - were airing news and current affairs programmes in contravention of state government orders passed in 2010, prohibiting them to air anything other than entertainment. The sources said divisional commissioner of Kashmir Asghar Samoon has been asked to ensure complete compliance of the government order. The airing of news and current affairs programmes on cable TV was banned in the Kashmir valley in June 2010 on grounds that these channels had no legal sanctity for carrying out such activities. However, there was no such ban on cable operators in Jammu province of the state. District Magistrate Baramulla Bashir Ahmad Bhat said he would look into the matter as to how these cable channels were airing news. The ban on news and current affairs programmes came under discussion during a review meeting chaired by Samoon yesterday.