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Friday, September 7, 2007
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CSB News silenced

Given 7 days to explain why permission won't be cancelled permanently

The telecom regularity body of the government yesterday pulled the plugs on the transmission of CSB News, a satellite TV channel of Focus Multimedia Company, for 'forgery'.

A group of officials of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regularity Commission (BTRC) including three deputy directors and an assistant director accompanied by a number of security personnel entered the CSB office at Uttara and switched off its transmission at 6:34pm, said a news release signed by Mohammad Ali Zakir, company secretary of Focus Multimedia Company Ltd.

The BTRC officials also issued a show cause notice to CSB asking it to explain within seven days why the frequency allocated to CSB would not be cancelled permanently. CSB was also asked to remain off the air during the seven days, the release added.

CSB News was the country's first 24-hour Bangla news channel that began transmission on 21 February this year.

The authorities of the channel were not allowed to make any announcement to its viewers prior to going off the air, a high official of CSB told The Daily Star last night.

A five-member probe committee of the information ministry earlier recommended turning off the broadcast of CSB as the channel had committed forgery to obtain frequency allocation.

On last Sunday, decision to shut down the channel gained grounds as the CSB officials during an hour-long meeting with the BTRC officials failed to produce any convincing document on frequency allocation, said sources.

Moreover, the government high-ups were also unhappy over CSB's transmission of the recent unrest on Dhaka University campus and elsewhere in the country. The government was convinced that the news channel played a provocative role in transmitting the violence that forced the government to impose curfew to pacify the unrest, added the sources.

The probe body headed by Kamal Uddin, joint secretary (development) of information ministry, found that CSB News got the frequency allocation by submitting a fake application two days before submitting the original one to the information ministry on October 19, 2006.

Under the Telecommunications Act, 2001, committing forgery to acquire frequency allocation is a punishable offence, which can lead to cancellation of the allocation.

Although CSB received the frequency allocation, its authorities did not submit the original application to the BTRC, sources in the probe body told The Daily Star.

CSB submitted an approval letter of the information ministry before the BTRC on October 17 and got the frequency allocation. The probe body found that the signature on the approval letter was forged, as the information ministry had not issued any approval letter to CSB on that particular day.

The probe committee, formed on July 31, is of the opinion that CSB News might have acquired the frequency allocation with worst intentions. It also observed that a number of officials at the information ministry were involved in the forgery.

Chowdhury Mahmud Hussain, Manager (administration) of CSB, said the frequency allocation approval letters were issued by the information ministry on October 17 and 19.

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