Monday, March 12, 2012

Bangladesh authority blocks private TV channels from live broadcast of opposition rally

SALEEM SAMAD

BANGLADESH SECURITY agencies knocked off the air three private TV channels in a bid to refrain them from live broadcast of opposition rally, without any prior notices.

The security agencies blocked for three and half hours in the afternoon the TV channels Ekushey Television (ETV), Bangla Vision and Islamic TV, when the rally was in progress.

The newsroom editors of the private satellite channels confirmed that government agencies asked Cable Operators' Association of Bangladesh (COAB) to suspend the telecast as the channels were planning to go live from the rally venue. The COAB officials acknowledged receiving the instruction.

However, the channels were available to the viewers around 6:30 pm, an hour after opposition leader Khaleda Zia finished her speech.

Earlier on March 10, the private television channels have been discouraged by the telecommunication regulatory body Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) not to broadcast live the main opposition rally on Monday.

Many private television channels are in a dilemma whether it would be safe to broadcast live the opposition’s rally, when the government has determined against the opposition programme alleging 'it is a plot to create anarchy'.

The private TV channels fears BTRC as the telecom regulatory body is also licensing authority.

The government spokesperson and minister Syed Ashraful Islam has expressed his indignation over the planned live broadcasting of BNP's rally. Several newspapers also ran reports saying the issue was also discussed in the cabinet meeting.

Bangladesh has 19 private TV channels, which broadcast through satellite and does not have permission for terrestrial broadcast facilities.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com