One day into a government show-cause notice to two cable operators for airing Bangladeshi advertisements on foreign channels, one of them has shut down broadcasting some Indian channels, including Zee Bangla and Zee Cinema.
Nationwide Media Limited is sole distributor of foreign channels of Zee group, Sony group, Discovery group and Cartoon Network, while Jadoo Vision Limited represents Star and Colors groups.
Except the channels of Zee group, other channels are being aired.
Zee Bangla is popular among a good number of viewers for its daily drama serials. “I used to watch 'Karunamoyi Rani Rashmoni'. But now I'll be forced to watch advertisements and talk shows of local channels,” wrote one Mohua Ahmed on Facebook.
Another viewer Saiful Islam said, “Popular children's show 'Doraemon' was shut down. Now Zee Bangla is off air. What entertainment have we left for women and the elderly?”
Wishing to be unnamed, an official of Nationwide Media Limited said once the problem is resolved, the channels will be broadcast again.
He however declined to elaborate what “the problem” is.
Navidul Huq, Director of Jadoo Vision Limited, said they have received a letter from the information ministry yesterday asking them to take necessary measures to stop advertisements on the foreign TV channels it airs.
“In the letter, the ministry also wanted to know whether it would be possible for us to stop advertisements on foreign TV channels and what steps we may take in this regard,” he also said.
“The ministry gave us seven days time to inform it about our measures,” added Navidul.
“I have informed Star and Colors about the government's requirement and waiting for their reply to this end,” Navidul said.
“We will inform the government once we get their [Star and Colors] reply,” he said, adding, “We will work in line with the government's decision whatever it may be, and their decision is final.”
Talking to The Daily Star SM Anwar Parvez, founding president of Cable Operators' Association of Bangladesh said the government has moved to destroy a huge organisation [COAB] in the name of saving Association of Television Channels Owners.
“The government earlier said there will be no Bangladeshi advertisements on foreign TV channels and we fully agreed with it. But now the government has instructed not to air any kind of advertisement on foreign channels,” he also said.
Parvez said Bangladeshi local distributors do not have any control on airing advertisements on foreign channels.
“If popular foreign channels stop broadcasting in Bangladesh, who will buy our service? People will not pay Tk 400-500 every month only to watch Bangladeshi TV channels,” he said.
In that case, the whole cable operator business will collapse, he added.
Information Minister Hasan Mahmud last night said the government served notices on two distributor companies for airing Bangladeshi commercials on downlinked foreign television channels.
Although the government banned airing of Bangladeshi commercials on downlinked foreign television channels from April 1, some companies continued airing ads violating Cable Television Network Operations Act 2006, the minister said while talking to reporters after a meeting with cinema hall owners at the ministry.
“Currently, television channels and print media are being deprived of advertisements for this reason and the country is losing Tk around 700-1,000 crore each year.”
In other countries, airing of local commercials on downlinked foreign television channels is prohibited, he also said.
The law was not enforced in Bangladesh earlier, but from now on it will be implemented, he said, adding, “We are going to enforce the law for the interest of the country's media.”
Asked, the information minister said different foreign channels have shut down their programmes on their own as they are not interested to air their programme without advertisement.
The government on March 13 banned the airing of local advertisements on downlinked foreign channels.