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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 13:39 GMT
Bangladesh TV faces possible closure
The Supreme Court also houses the Bangladesh High Court
ETV now has to appeal to the Supreme Court
test hello test
By Moazzem Hossain
BBC correspondent in Dhaka

Bangladesh's first, and so far only, independent terrestrial broadcaster could face closure after losing a crucially important case in the country's High Court.

Dhaka policeman faces smoke-bombs from rioters
Bangladesh is a tough environment for broadcasters

The court has declared that the license issued to Ekushey Television (ETV) for broadcasting television programmes was illegal.

The judges have given ETV 10 days to appeal to the country's highest court, the Bangladesh Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court does not uphold the appeal, ETV will have to stop broadcasting.

The case against Ekushey Television was filed by three men believed to be backed by the four-party coalition currently in power.

Heated debate

They argued that the previous government, led by the current opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, did not follow proper procedures in issuing the license.

Opposition leader Sheikh Hasina
ETV denies receiving any favours from the fomer premier

They also argued that ETV was unfairly given permission to use the broadcasting facilities of state-run Bangladesh television.

Supporters of the broadcaster say the future of South Asia's only independent terrestrial television company has been jeopardised because of the case.

They argue that the station is being targeted because its license was issued by the previous government, and it is viewed by many in the current administration as sympathetic to the opposition.

Challenging environment

Ekushey Television began broadcasting in April 2000 as an exception to the norm.

Successive governments have maintained strict editorial control over state-run electronic media.

Recent reports by organisations defending the rights of journalists have complained of the difficulties faced by Bangladeshi journalists.

Some have been killed and others injured in attacks, most of which have remained unexplained.

Observers say in Bangladesh's feverish political environment, independent broadcasters are confronted with particularly difficult challenges.

The BBC's Alistair Lawson
"The government denies it's directly behind the court action"
See also:

10 Feb 02 | South Asia
Bangladesh TV faces court challenge
20 Jan 02 | South Asia
Bangladesh journalist freed
27 Sep 01 | South Asia
Reprieve for Bangladesh broadcaster
26 Sep 01 | South Asia
Blow for Bangladesh broadcaster
10 May 00 | South Asia
Bangladesh launches private TV channel
20 Jul 00 | South Asia
Bangladesh journalists fear for safety
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