Distributors and cable operators suspended the broadcast of foreign TV channels on Friday following a government directive that stated only foreign channels that air ‘clean feeds’ – without advertising – can be shown in Bangladesh.
Nizam Uddin Masud, former secretary-general of the Cable Operators Association of Bangladesh, says the association received a list of 24 foreign channels that were running ‘clean feeds’ from the government on Monday.
Channels such as BBC, CNN, Star Sports and National Geographic then became available to TV viewers in Dhaka’s Mohakhali, Dhanmondi, and Mirpur areas on Tuesday morning.
But not all the channels were available in parts of Savar, according to viewers.
“The government’s order hasn’t reached everybody yet,” said Nizam Uddin Masud, when asked about the situation.
“And those operators without sufficient manpower can take 4-5 hours to do the proper calibrations. The channels will all be available across the country by today.”
In early September, Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud announced that foreign channels that fail to comply with the clean feed policy will not be allowed to air in the country after Sept 30.
The minister warned that the law would be enforced countrywide otherwise.
On the final day of the deadline, Mahmud mentioned that mobile courts will be deployed around the country to ensure everyone follows the directive.
The cable operators said they stopped airing the foreign channels as it is not possible for them to cut out the commercials if the channel authorities do not provide them with clean feeds.
Anwar Parvez said, “More than 500,000 people are involved in the cable operating sector. The industry is nearing an end. But all these channels are being aired on other platforms, including OTT. If the broadcasting is transferred to another sector, the operators will be left with nothing.”
“We can keep the industry alive If the government is considerate. We want a level playing field for everyone. If we cable operators can’t air foreign channels but others can, it would be discrimination.”