CAB Stir : Is ‘Govt-inspired mechanism’ disrupting Pratidin Time Network?

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As protests in the Northeast turn violent over the government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was passed in parliament on Wednesday, viewers began complaining that they were having problems accessing Pratidin Time, even though they were able to view other regional news channels.

This led to concerns about press freedom in India and familiar questions about the government’s attitude to being held to scrutiny.

Viewers also took to social media in support of Pratidin Time, posting pictures of blank television screen. This led to a response from Direct to Home service providers.

“This could have been the result of a rogue carrier”, an IT expert says.

What is Rogue carriers?

A rogue carrier is one which disrupts a legitimate signal, jamming it by transmitting another signal in the same frequency. Rogue carriers have in the past been used by governments to disrupt transmission that they feel are detrimental to their cause. For example, in 2003, a major controversy broke out when the United States said that Cuba had used a rogue carrier to jam signals broadcast by Voice of America in Persian, which was aimed at a domestic audience in Iran. The United States government claimed this was the handiwork of a pact between anti-US clerics in Iran and the Cuban establishment led by Fidel Castro.

Industry insiders said there have also been instances where market competitors scramble a signal to gain competitive advantage. With the advent of digital transmissions, jamming signals using rogue carriers has become much easier than it was with analog transmissions. In 2014, for example, the DTH Operators Association of India, filed a complaint to the police as well as the government claiming direct-to-home operations were being interrupted since “some elements were disrupting their signals by illegally installing jammers”.

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