Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Teesta Shabana Amir Ahahrukh: What happened to freedom of speech?

Teesta Shabana Amir Ahahrukh: What happened to freedom of speech?

No more Desperate Housewives in Kashmir

Associated Press
Posted online: Wednesday, March 07, 2007 at 1518 hours IST
Updated: Wednesday, March 07, 2007 at 2009 hours IST

Srinagar, March 7: There will be no more Desperate Housewives for residents of Kashmir. They will have to do without Friends reruns, too.

Four foreign television channels have been pulled from the air in Kashmir after militant groups demanded cable companies stop airing "obscene" shows, cable operators said on Wednesday.

"As militants have asked us to stop airing obscene channels, we've suspended broadcasting English channels like HBO, Star Movies, Star World and Sony Pix," said Muzaffar Ahmed, a TV cable operator in Srinagar.

Two militant groups - Al-Badr Mujahedeen and Al-Madina – on Sunday in a telephone call to a local news agency, Current News Service, advised TV cable operators to drop channels that, according to the groups, spread obscenity. The groups did not specify which channels they were referring to.

"We took the decision after a meeting of all local cable operators in Srinagar," said Ahmed.

The content of the channel's broadcasts in India is already pretty tame compared to other countries in order to comply with India's stringent censorship laws. Obscenities are bleeped out and hints of nudity blurred. Other scenes are cut entirely.

In January the AXN channel was barred from the airwaves for two months for airing the show "the World's Sexiest Advertisements."

Cable operators were taking no chances. Last year, a bomb blast rocked the office of a cable TV provider in the town of Sopore, 50 kilometers north of Srinagar. One person died in the explosion and the company's third floor office was badly damaged by the blast. The lone cable operator in the town later halted telecasts.

Police said no formal complaints had been received from cable operators.

However, some of them have informed police about the threats, said Farooq Ahmed, a deputy-inspector general of police in Srinagar.

"Nevertheless, we've stepped up foot patrols around TV cable offices," he said

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