The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Sunday asked cable operators of Kashmir Valley not to air any channel from Iran, Turkey and Malaysia. A senior official of the Ministry Vikram Sahay had a long meeting with cable operators, here in Srinagar, at the Information Department office.
In the meeting, according to operators, the official read out the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and directed them to adhere to the regulations of the law.
Sahay, who is the joint secretary in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, told the operators that they are violating the law by airing channels from 'Muslims' countries, especially Iran, Turkey and Malaysia.
Sahay was told that while no channel from Malaysia was being aired in the Valley, Sehar TV, a religious channel of Iran, was being aired as it is watched by the Shia community.
The operators also told the official that Al-Arabiya channel-run by Saudi Arabia-was also being aired.
The official said that both, Al-Arabiya and Sehar TV shouldn’t be aired in the region.
In the meeting, the official also sought information from the operators about the most popular TV shows in Kashmir.
Kashmir Valley is under communication blockade since August 5, when the government snapped phone, internet connections across Jammu and Kashmir ahead of revoking Article 370 from the state and splitting the state into two union territories.
While the government has restored postpaid internet services and landlines, the ban continues on pre-post phones and internet.
From August 5 onwards the cable operators were unable to function in the Valley. They were only able to resume their services after 15 days.
However, the operators, while talking to the media after the meeting with Sahay, said that the internet blockade is posing difficulties for them and they are unable to fully control their operation and some channels automatically prop up.
“We sought resumption of the internet services for us during the meeting. That would help us to control our operations fully,” the operators said. The official assured them that he would take up the matter with Jammu and Kashmir government.
The operators brought to the notice of the ministry official that religious channels like Astha were being aired in the Valley.
Sahay refused to talk to media persons. He also refused to comment on the internet ban in the Valley saying that it was not his domain.
In July 2018, the Jammu and Kashmir government had asked the cable operators to desist from telecasting around 34 channels.