The Supreme Court yesterday cleared way for the television channels to broadcast sponsored TV news and headlines.
The Appellate Division of the SC stayed a HC verdict that declared the sponsoring of TV news and headlines illegal and barred the broadcast of news and headlines sponsored by different organisations.
A four-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain came up with the stay order after holding a brief hearing on four separate leave to appeal petitions challenging the HC verdict.
Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission (BTRC), private television channels -- Channel 24, Deepto TV and Channel-i -- submitted the petitions with the SC challenging the HC verdict.
Khandaker Reza-E Raquib, the lawyer for BTRC, told The Daily Star the apex court stayed the HC verdict till disposal of the petitions.
He said the petitions were filed citing the grounds that there is no violation of any law or rule in broadcasting sponsored TV news and headlines and therefore, the petition upon which the HC delivered the verdict is not acceptable.
Attorney General AM Amin Uddin, lawyers Murad Reza and Md Asaduzzaman appeared for the TV channels.
The HC on May 6 last year declared sponsoring of TV news and headlines illegal and also directed that broadcast of news and headlines sponsored by different organisations cannot continue after August 31 last year.
Delivering verdict on a petition, the HC also observed that sponsored TV news and headlines may not be unbiased, and therefore, people's right to information will be denied.
Sponsoring news and headlines is against the spirit of the constitution's articles 31 and 39, Masud Ahmed Sayeed, lawyer for the writ petitioner, had told The Daily Star.
Yesterday, lawyer Masud Ahmed Sayeed, however, could not say anything about the apex court's stay order as he was not in the court during the hearing.
The HC bench of Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Sashanka Shekhar Sarkar had come up with the verdict following a petition filed by MA Matin, a retired teacher of Government Laboratory High School, challenging the legality of sponsored news and headlines on TV.
Matin filed the petition with the HC in October 2011, saying that most TV channels never run news that go against the interests of organisations or persons paying them to air advertisements. People's right to information is thus denied, the petition added.