Melange

Is the Ongoing Ban on Local News Channels Justified?

By Asiya Raheem

Without regular access to news, most of us would be unaware of what is going on in the world as well as around us. Media be it national or local aims at keeping us informed and forewarned about events which may affect us directly or indirectly. While the role of national media is tremendous when it comes to disseminating information, local news channels also enjoy a niche position in the local community. The purpose of local news is to see, know, care about and understand the community. Many people believe that local media stations are like public libraries and museums. They preserve culture, educate and engage in order to build understanding of various local issues. But when the local news channels are banned in name of peace and order, the people are robbed of their right to information. When curbs are put in place on media even in the 21st century, it puts a question mark on the claims of being the world’s largest democracy. Local news channels had been banned by the government in Kashmir during the summer turmoil of 2010 stating that the channels were only serving to disrupt the peace in the valley. Six years later, when the situation has improved quite a lot, the ban still continues to be in effect. Why is the ban still in place? Is it because the government wants to gate keep information or is it because it wants to protect the interests of the people? In an era when information is flowing freely, how justified is the ban? Team Melange asks. Here is what people think

Talib Irshad
The curbs on private news channels are completely unjustified. We only have sponsored news-bulletins full of sensational news stories. There are no news channels which genuinely report the news. If there are more local news channels, at least we will be able to decide which news channel we want to watch.
—— Talib Irshad , MBA Student
Abid Akhoon
The ban on private news channels should definitely be lifted. But these channels should be owned and run by professionally trained journalists and not by businessmen, who only aim at profits. Journalists provide real news rather the sensationalised version which only serves as a source of entertainment.
—— Abid Akhoon , Govt. Employee
Ahmar Shameer
We only have two news channels which only give coverage to provocative speeches and activities which are aimed at creating law and order situations. We are in dire need of some good news channels which will actually report the news.
—— Ahmar Shameer , Entrepreneur
Akhtar Baba
This is the 21st century and curbs on media is the worst form of oppression in this century. Banning private news channels only means that you don’t want the people to know the truth. The authorities should lift this ban immediately.
—— Akhtar Baba , Govt. Employee
Danish Wani
Doordarshan is completely under the control of the government. It is more of a mouthpiece of the government than a news channel. We are in utmost need of a few genuine news channels since our leading news channel has just become a platform for promoting the government policies and schemes.
—— Danish Wani , PG Student
Farooq Ahmad
The continuing ban of all private news channels in our valley indicates how much freedom of speech we actually have. Our situation is not much different from those places which are under dictatorial regimes. Our media too is controlled and owned by the government.
—— Farooq Ahmad , Govt. Employee
Imran Ali
I don’t think anyone here knows what journalism actually stands for. They don’t know the ethics of this profession. News today is all show and no substance. Our news channels don’t aim at keeping us informed, they only aim at entertainment and sensationalism. Even if the ban on private news channels is lifted, I don’t think it will make much difference.
—— Imran Ali , Employee, Reliance
 Khurshid Ahangar
The reason these private news channels were banned in Kashmir was because they were adding fuel to the fire during the turmoil. They hardly showed any real news. All they did was show biased versions which only served to further instigate the mob.
——  Khurshid Ahangar , Journalism Student
Mohammad Tauqeer
The only job of these so called news channels was to spread propaganda. People who ran these news channels either aimed at creating unrest or at gaining profits. They only sensationalised and dressed up the news.
—— Mohammad Tauqeer, M.Tech Student
Sameena Khanday
All news channels have only one motto-" to gain profits". Our national media follows the same motto and so did the local news channels before they were banned. Media today is plagued by the disease of sensationalism. News has just become another source of entertainment. These days you get more information from social media than from the mainstream media. We can only hope that we get a credible local news channel in coming years.
—— Sameena Khanday , Homemaker
Shabir Ahmad
Like every other state, we too should have our own private news channels. Whatever may have been the reasons behind banning the local news channels in the first place, this prolonged ban can no longer be justified.
—— Shabir Ahmad , Businessman
Syed Wiqaar
On one hand our country claims to be one of the largest democracies of the world. But on the other hand, our voices are suppressed brutally. Banning news channels is quite unheard of in today’s era. It only happens in dictatorial regimes where the dictators don’t want people to voice their dissent.
—— Syed Wiqaar , PG Student
Ubaid Yassin
The government should lift the ban on local news channels if it wants the people to believe that it is really working for the welfare of the people. Any government which puts curbs on dissemination of information, can never be democratic. Such governments only want to rule.
—— Ubaid Yassin , M.Tech Student
The ban may have been justified when it was imposed because the local channels were only spreading chaos and confusion in times of turmoil. But, the situation is a lot more different now. The ban can no longer be justified. It is time the authorities lifted the ban and gave media a free hand in disseminating information.
—— Mohammad Ayub Khan , Private Employee
We have as much right to information as any other citizen of the country. If we are called as an integral part of India, then why are we treated so differently? We are being denied our basic rights. I think our valley should be renamed as the valley of bans. Our news channels are banned, our SMS services were banned and our internet is banned every other day. All our government does is ban things.
—— Mohammad Ashraf , Teacher


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