SRINAGAR: Cable operators in the Indian controlled Kashmir have stopped showing Western news channels including the CNN and BBC and one official said the move was in deference of the widely held view here that the Western channels were giving a biased account of the affairs in the Muslim world. “The action was taken following persistent public demand to show alternative news channels which they think are more balanced towards their affairs”, said Syed Imtyaz Jalali, a member of the cable operators association here.
Besides plethora of local and regional news channels cable TV in Kashmir these days offer only one international news channel, Al-Jazeera English.Cable operators in Kashmir have succumbed to pressures in past and blocked various Indian and Western entertainment channels like HBO, Star Movies and MTV etc. Many here viewed these channels as sources of rising moral corruption. All these ‘forbidden’ channels are back now as the situation has eased a great deal.
Sources say blocking of the Western news channels is more a voluntary decision unlike in the past when the decisions were taken under threat. “There are more alternatives available in the world of television these days and we may switch over to other and cleaner sources for entertainment too gradually”, said Shams-ul-Hassan Mir, who runs a cable network in Pandrethan area of Srinagar.
Cable TV in Kashmir show besides scores of Western, Indian and Pakistani channels one Saudi and an Iranian channel too. Jam-e Jam, for Iranians and Persian speaking people is fast catching up with people here as Kashmiris have a historical and cultural affinity with the Persian language, said Imtyaz.
When asked if there is possibility of adding PRESS TV as another news source besides Al-Jazeera English, Irfan Ahmad, one of the Directors of ‘Take 1 Television’, which controls cable operations in Kashmir, said, “We will take up the matter in our review meeting next week.” PRESS TV is a new international English language news channel from Middle East based in Tehran.-SANA