A private Bangladesh television channel banned four-and-a-half-years ago for alleged political bias has been allowed to resume broadcasting by the new interim government, officials said. Ekushey Television (ETV) was taken off air on 29 August, 2002 after the broadcasting authority under then-prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia accused it of showing programmes that were biased towards her predecessor, Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League.
“We are on air again as the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Board (BTRC) lifted the ban,” said Shakil Ahmed, a senior official of ETV, the country’s first private channel. ETV was set up in April 2000 when Hasina was prime minister. The channel was established as a joint venture by British journalist Simon Dring, who worked for the BBC in Dhaka during Bangladesh’s liberation war in 1971, and a local firm.
After Khaleda came to power, Dring’s work permit was cancelled and he was forced to sell his stake in ETV. Khaleda handed power to an interim government in October 2006, on completion of a five-year term during which six other private local satellite television channels were permitted to operate. The interim government postponed an election scheduled for 22 January after widespread street violence between supporters of the two main political parties left 45 dead and hundreds injured.
ETV along with the state-owned Bangladesh Television will operate both terrestrial and satellite networks.