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Bangladesh shuts first private channel

Ekushey Television, Bangladesh's only independent television station, has had its broadcasting licence revoked by Bangladesh's Supreme Court, citing irregularities in how the station obtained its licence.

Ekushey Television (ETV), Bangladesh's only independent television station, has had its broadcasting licence revoked by Bangladesh's Supreme Court, citing irregularities in how the station obtained its licence.

ETV was set up in 1998 with the financial backing of a leading group of Bangladeshi industrialists, European and American investors, and the US based Citicorp International Finance Corporation (CIFC).

The station successfully bid to become the first private national television network in Bangladesh in a tender floated by the Ministry of Information after the government decided to permit the operation of a second terrestrial television channel in the country. The 15-year license agreement was signed between the Government of Bangladesh and Ekushey Television in March 1999.

ETV began its first broadcast in 2000, and then saw transmissions switched off just hours after last Thursday's (29/8/02) court ruling.

According to the full panel judgement, “Ekushey Television is an example of wanton license with a shady deal in every step of the licensing process. It illustrates how executive power can be corrupted while law is forced to take back seat. It essentially appears that the concerned bureaucrats washed off their hands from public duty on pressure from above, without any regard to law.”

The full text of the judgement is available online (www.bangladesh-web.com/news/aug/19/f19082002.htm.)

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