The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Sunday allowed private television channels to broadcast news sponsored by businesses.
The four-judge bench chaired by chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order after staying a judgement of the High Court that on May 6, 2019 declared television news sponsored by businesses illegal and in violation of Articles 31, 32, and 39 of the constitution.
The Appellate Division said that its stay order will remain in force unit it disposes of the appeals filed by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and a number of TV channels challenging the High Court judgement.
The appellants TV channels are — Channel I, Deepto TV and Maasranga Television
The lawyers appearing for TVs told the Appellate Division that the High Court could not declare TV news sponsored by businesses illegal as the National Broadcasting Policy 2014 and the proposed Broadcast Act-2018 did not impose any embargo on TV news sponsored by businesses.
They also argued that the TV channels would not be able to survive unless they were allowed to broadcast news sponsored by businesses as advertisements are their main income source.
The BTRC in its appeal opposed the High Court’s judgement asking the channels to stop telecasting TV news sponsored by businesses, otherwise they would face contempt of court.
The BTRC said that unless TV news was sponsored by businesses, the owners of channels would not be able to pay to Bangabandhu Satellite-1 for using its services for broadcasting their programmes.
The bench of Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Sashanka Shekhar Sarkar in their verdict banned private TV channels broadcasting news sponsored by businesses after hearing a public interest litigation filed in August 2011 by MA Matin, a TV watcher and retired teacher of Government Laboratory High School.
The petitioner said that the writ was filed after some private TV channels did not broadcast the news of death of Dhaka University music professor Dr Mridul Kanti Chakraborty due to the negligence of doctors as well as the authorities of Labaid Cardiac Hospital on August 15, 2011.
He said that the news bulletins of these TV channels were sponsored by Labaid Hospital.
Attorney general AM Amin Uddin, lawyers Murad Reza, Asaduzzaman and Anisul Hassan appeared for TV channels while Khandaker Reza-E-Raquib defended the BTRC.
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