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GTA channel ban tussle

Kalimpong, Jan. 6: The GTA Sabha today said it had lifted a ban on the operations of three local cable channels in Darjeeling, but the district administration said only it had the power to remove the restriction.

The three channels had been restrained from airing entertainment and news programmes in August in the midst of the latest round of the Gorkhaland agitation. The ban was imposed by the Darjeeling district administration on the grounds that the channels were telecasting events that allegedly fuelled the agitation.

Binay Tamang, the GTA executive member in-charge of information and cultural affairs, said he had signed the order allowing the cable operators to telecast programmes from today. The order signed by Tamang said the cable channels were “authorized” to telecast in Darjeeling subdivision “from 06.01.2014 onwards”.

“As per the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration gazette notification dt 14th of March 2012 issued by chief secretary, Govt. of West Bengal vide. Chapter- II, Section 26/(lvi) we do herby authorized to telecast the local Channels in Darjeeling Sub Division from 06.01.2014 onwards,” read the order signed by Tamang.

Darjeeling district magistrate Puneet Yadav, however, said he was yet to see the order since he had left Darjeeling for Siliguri in the evening. “The ban was imposed by the office of the district magistrate as per the provisions of the Cable Television (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2011. The Act empowers the district collector to impose such a ban on cable operators in case of the telecast of programmes that could disturb peace and cause hatred. I have not seen the order. It must have come to my Darjeeling office after I left for Siliguri. If such an order has been issued, it must have been done out of ignorance. We will let them know (the actual position) tomorrow,” he said.