Al Jazeera denied permission to downlink in India

Thursday, 17 May 2007, 07:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: The Indian government has denied permission to the Doha-based TV news channel Al Jazeera to downlink its satellite feed into the country.

According to reliable sources, the home ministry has told the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry that the channel's downlinking application "has not been cleared on security grounds".

On Tuesday Human Resource Minister Arjun Singh had launched a book - "The Al Jazeera Decade" - at a well-attended function on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its launch. Al Jazeera deputy managing director Ibrahim Helal was present on the occasion.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Sitaram Yechury, who also attended the book launch, feels that the home ministry's refusal for security clearance could have come under "external pressure."

"Security considerations have to be genuine. I hope nothing, except security considerations, like pressure from the US or any other countries, were behind the decision," Yechury told IANS.

"Al Jazeera has established its credibility and its objectivity has widely been appreciated. People in India also have the right to view the other side of the news," he added.

Al Jazeera, known for its footage of Osama Bin Laden, had launched its English-language channel in November last year to supplement its highly popular Arabic channel that had carved a niche for itself.

When media reports last year suggested that Indian government had banned networks such as Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabia and QTV, I&B Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi had "vehemently" denied it and clarified that the three channels had not formally applied for downlinking in India and that was the reason their programmes could not be transmitted or re-transmitted through cable networks.

Dasmunsi had also said the channels could apply again for permission to be downlinked.

Al Jazeera had then formally applied for registration again.

According to I&B sources, the ministry can again refer the issue to home ministry. "But it is done only when some political pressure is there," the official, who does not want to be named, told IANS
Source: IANS
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