• Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
  • Last Update : 03:33 am

Bangladesh fans’ deprivation of watching EPL on TV continues

  • Published at 08:57 pm October 25th, 2021
salah

The government took a stern move and banned all the broadcast without clean feed from October 1 this year

 

It was a chilling winter evening at a remote village in the North Bengal area and amidst the silence of the night in a rice field, one man was shouting like insane as his favourite player Mohamed Salah of Liverpool Football Club was ripping apart their arch-rivals Manchester United at the opposition’s den.

It was a surreal scene at Dinajpur, thousands of miles away from Manchester as Fahim, a student of North-South University, was dancing in ecstasy with his cell-phone, the device he used to watch the most high voltage match of the English Premier League. 

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Discretely, the image may be symbolized as the omnipresent nature of football, the all-conquering global game and could be hailed as the ultimate triumph of the beautiful game. But, the apparently romantic, out-of-the world scene actually tells a very sorry tale where the passionate spectators have become the victim of circumstances, a hapless third party amid the complexity of power struggle and deprived of getting legitimate entertainment, a basic right of every law abiding citizen. 

Fahim, who is staying with his parents in his village residence ever since the pandemic outbreak, was actually compelled to watch the game in open field for getting a better internet connection to run a streaming video of the live match. 

Like him, millions of football fans in Bangladesh are currently unable to watch the games through television as government has banned broadcasting of any foreign channel that shows foreign advertisement and asked the cable operators to show only channels with clean feed (without foreign advertisement). 

The regulation was passed years ago as government felt it was not getting revenues from foreign advertisement and the ban would force local cable operators pave the way for local advertisements and thus bring revenue in government coffer. 

However, the cable operators, a powerful syndicate, did not pay much heed as the new setup would increase their cost and reduce their profit margin and they thought the embargo will create furor among public that would resist government from imposing it.  

However, the government took a stern move and banned all the broadcast without clean feed from October 1 this year. 

“We never thought government could pressurize us. Watching foreign channels is the major source of entertainment for households in the country. If that is stopped for weeks, people will be furious and government will be forced to allow us broadcast without clean feed. That is why we never took the law seriously though it was drafted years ago,” said a cable service provider who preferred anonymity. 

He also informed that India and even Nepal broadcast foreign channels with clean feed. 

Initially, there were huge outbursts at social media as people were desperate to watch foreign channels including sports channels, but as the time progressed the protest subdued and most of the people are either finding different avenues or being patient for the situation to be resolved. 

Adit Muktadir, Fahim’s teacher at NSU, faced the similar problem. Adit, himself a staunch Liverpool fan, arranged a screening with many of his friends at a Dhaka restaurant. 

“We struggled to show the matches on big screen. There was no legitimate way of watching on TV. We tried with some streaming platform but those were unstable and require high bandwidth internet,” said Adit.

He also pointed an important factor about revenue. 

“Government is trying to salvage revenue but I know many are buying VPN and subscribing to foreign streaming services. The money is eventually going to foreign countries. But despite all those, we cannot watch games on TV,” he added. 

A local internet service provider also informed that the huge traffic during big matches actually slow down the internet service and may cause huge problems.  

Rabbitholebd, a very popular app has recently initiated paid subscription. They are currently focusing on T20 Cricket World Cup but also broadcasted the vital EPL match on Sunday. 

However, Rabbithole will not solve the problem for people who want to watch the matches on TV and it will only increase cost of entertainment. 

“I already spend around 1000 taka for my Akash subscriptions per month for watching sports and other entertainment channels. My child and elder family members want to enjoy different contents through TV. Currently, we have to pay the sum although we are deprived from many channels. Adding cost for internet and more services will be creating extra financial pressure,” said Tasmim Morshed, president of Official Liverpool Fan Club Bangladesh, who is also a Chittagong-based businessman.

Tasmim also informed till now there is no huge outcry among fans and many are busy with T20 World Cup were Bangladesh is also taking part. But he anticipates people will get agitated if the broadcast issue is not settled within a month or so. 

Amid the standstill of government and cable TV operators, it is general public, who are suffering and it should not continue as government is accountable to people and operators must remember, they cannot afford to deprive their clients for long. 

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