Illegal IPTV, vessels of antigovernment propaganda


During the past few years, Bangladesh has been witnessing the mushroom growth of hundreds of IPTV [Internet Protocol Television], majority of which are being used by antigovernment and militancy outfits in spreading extremely offensive propaganda. While these IPTV outlets do not generate even minimum income from viewership, it is a question as to how these outlets are surviving with staffs and other establishments. It may also be mentioned here that, majority of these illegal channels are based on YouTube and those even do not have their own website, meaning, technically those are just YouTube channels in the name of IPTV.

Back in 2016, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) barred the services of IPTV, which by then gained popularity as a mode of entertainment, mostly in the urban areas. But on August 24, 2019, BTRC lifted the embargo on Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and video on demand services.

The IPTV is a system where television services are delivered using the internet protocol suite over a packet-switched network such as local area network or the internet, instead of being delivered through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal and cable television formats.

Video on demand allows users to select and watch/listen to video or audio content when they choose to, rather than having to watch at a specific broadcast time.

Also read Cyber Jihadi Units of Islamist Forces in Bangladesh

According information, mostly some so-called journalists and people with dubious and criminal backgrounds are running these IPTVs, taking advantage of the absence of required law to regulate their activities. Only on video-sharing site YouTube, there are uncounted numbers of such channels, which are even running extremely derogatory contents against Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Investigative team of BLiTZ has already identified few channels namely AUTV News24, Alif TV Official etcetera which contains seditious contents, which falls under the existing laws of sedition and high-treason of the land.

Commenting on these illegal news channels on YouTube as well as IPTVs, a senior broadcast journalist said, “Government should have taken legal steps against the illegal news channels on YouTube and IPTVs, which are involved into numerous forms of anti-state activities and propaganda in favor of anti-state elements and militancy groups”.

The journalist further said, “Currently there are 170.1 million mobile phone subscribers in Bangladesh. Meaning, the size of audience of those illegal news channels on YouTube or IPTVs are massive. Moreover, the viewership is no more restricted only within the urban areas, as majority of the mobile phone users are now from the rural Bangladesh. Considering the size of mobile phone users, it is well understood, those illegal news channels on YouTube or IPTVs can pose potential threat to national security as most of those broadcast outlets are already being used by anti-state, anti-government and pro-militancy forces”.

He said, “Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) could take drastic actions against the existing illegal IPTVs and block those from being viewed by people in Bangladesh. This is essential for the sake of national security as well”.

It is learned, dozens of IPTVs are running extremely provocative contents in favor of Hefajat-e-Islam, Jammat-e-Islami, while in the recent days, those channels also are running contents against the arrest of Mamunul Haque and other Hefazat men. Few of these illegal channels are even running fake or old videos with the ulterior motives of giving instigations to unlawful protests against Mamunul Haque and other Hefazat leaders.

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