In a major embarrassment for Al Jazeera, the international news channel was forced to go off air in India for five days, as the government penalised the channel for showing an incorrect map of India on several occasions between 2013 and 2014.
Al Jazeera transmitted a blank screen with a message displaying that it is unable to air regular content“as instructed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, this channel will not be available from 00.01 hours on 22nd April till 00.01 hours on 27th April 2015.”
When questioned why, the I&B Ministry said that it had been informed that the news channel had been using an incorrect map of India in some of its shows during the last two years, following which the matter was forwarded to the Surveyor General of India (SGI).
The SGI observed that in some of the maps displayed by Al Jazeera, “a portion of Indian territory Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Chinese occupied Aksai Chin has not been shown as a part of Indian territory.” The channel also did not show Lakshadweep and the Andaman Islands in some of the maps, the SGI said.
The SGI added that the map displayed by Al Jazeera was not in accordance with the Survey of India copyright map and the National Map Policy. This was corroborated by the Ministry of External Affairs.
In reply to India’s show case notice, the channel said that all the maps displayed by the channel were generated by an internationally known software, which is used by all global news providers. Al Jazeera also added that it took the Indian government’s concern very seriously, and would review all India and Pakistan maps to ensure they match with the maps used by the United Nations.
At an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), attended by MEA officials, decided that the channel had clearly violated the provisions of the programme code, and curtailed transmission or retransmission of the channel throughout India for the said duration.
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