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Map flout notice to Al Jazeera

New Delhi, Sept. 1: The Centre has slapped a showcause on the Al Jazeera English channel for allegedly misrepresenting India’s maps in its news reports.

“It had come to the notice of the ministry that in some of the news reports shown by the channel in 2013 related to various incidents, parts of Jammu and Kashmir were shown in territory outside India,” said a senior official of the information and broadcasting ministry.

Other officials said on several occasions last year, the international news channel had shown parts of India outside the border, after which these were brought to the notice of the government.

“The ministry took up the matter with the office of Surveyor-General of India (which verifies the accurateness of maps). And now, after getting it confirmed from them, we have issued a formal notice to the channel,” the ministry official said.

The Cable TV Network Rules bar broadcast of programmes containing anything “affecting the integrity of the nation”. “TV channels are required to follow the prescribed norms, including the programme code and advertisement code under the relevant acts and rules,” the official said.

Under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, the ministry has powers to regulate or prohibit the transmission or retransmission of any such programme or the channel.

This will be done if the Centre thinks it is “necessary or expedient in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity or security of India”, the officials said, citing the act.

Al Jazeera did not respond to repeated attempts to get its response on the alleged violations.

Al Jazeera is the world’s first English-language news channel to be based in West Asia, with its head-office in Doha, Qatar. It began downlinking in India in 2011 and is now available in millions of homes through various direct-to-home (DTH) platforms.

The channel is known to provide both regional voice and a global perspective for a potential world audience of over a billion English speakers who do not share the Anglo-American worldview.