Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday shutdown local cable network in the city for airing Pakistani channels.
The local cable operators alleged that on Tuesday morning, without any prior notification, the authorities sealed off their main head office in Hyderpora—leaving them clueless about the entire development.
Owner of K9 TV cable network, Farooq Sheikh said the ban has impacted around thirty thousand viewers in the city. Sheikh alleged that they did not receive any communication from the Deputy Commissioner’s office on the matter.
“We didn’t receive any prior notification regarding the shutdown. All of a sudden on Tuesday morning, Tehsildar seized our office in Hyderpora,” Sheikh said.
“Our cable network operates in 50 localities across the city. We have total clientele of 30 thousand and more than 500 people are earning their livelihood from this profession. All of them were impacted,” Sheikh said.
In 2017, Government of India (GoI) had asked state government to immediately stop the unauthorised broadcast of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia channels spreading “anti-India” propaganda in the Kashmir valley.
On July 2018, state government, according to an order issued by the additional district commissioner (ADC), Srinagar had asked all cable operators to close almost 30 channels for the larger interests of “maintaining peace and tranquillity” in the valley.
The channels include Peace TV Urdu, Peace TV English, ARY QTV, Madni Channel, Noor TV, Hadi TV, Paigam, Hidayat, Saudi Al-Sunnah Al-Nabawiyah, Saudi Al-Quran Al-Karim, Sehar, Message TV, Hum TV, ARY Digital Asia, Hum Sitaray, ARY Zindagi, PTV Sports, ARY Musik, TV One, ARY Masala, ARY Zoug, A TV, Karbala TV, GEO News, ARY New Asia, ABB Takk News, Waseb TV, 92 News, Duniya News, Samma News, Geo Tez, Express News, ARY News and Ahli-biat TV.
However, Sheikh said post 2018; they were only running the channels approved by the competitive authorities.
Pertinently, several members of the cable operators association met Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar on Wednesday to discuss the matter.
However, the operators alleged that DC gave cold shoulder to their plea for allowing them to restore the network.
“He (DC) told us there is a pressure from higher authorities,” they said.
The local operators said the ban would make a huge dent on their business venture.
Waqas Sofi, a cable operator in Rainawari area of Srinagar, said that with Cricket World Cup starting from Thursday, it would be difficult task to convince the viewers to hold on to their network.
“If the ban will continue then I am afraid we will lose our clients. Many will switch to dish TVs. It will be a huge business loss for us,” Sofi said.
Meanwhile, despite several attempts DC Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary did not respond to comment on the issue.