Committee to Protect Journalists urges AP govt to restore access to blocked channels

The Opposition YSRCP has alleged that channels including TV9, NTV, 10TV, and Sakshi TV were illegally blocked in Andhra Pradesh because they were critical of the TDP, which recently came to power in the state.
Chandrababu Naidu
Chandrababu NaiduPTI
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After channels including TV9, NTV, 10TV, and Sakshi TV were reportedly found to have been blocked in Andhra Pradesh since June 6, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for the immediate restoration of access to the affected news broadcasters. The Opposition YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) had alleged that the channels were illegally blocked because they were critical of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which recently came to power in Andhra Pradesh after defeating the former YSRCP government in the Assembly elections. Responding to the controversy in a statement on June 13, the CPJ urged state leaders to ensure that all broadcasters can operate freely and without censorship.

Meanwhile, YSRCP’s Rajya Sabha member S Niranjan Reddy has called for an investigation into the matter in a letter addressed to the chairperson of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). He alleged in the letter that the state’s cable TV operators’ association acted under pressure and directions from the TDP-led government to block these channels without justification or procedural compliance.

“The Cable TV Operators' Association, under orders from the newly formed government, has taken an arbitrary decision to take various news channels critical of the newly formed regime off the air without issuing the requisite notice,” he said. According to the Telecommunication (Broadcasting And Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2017, no service provider shall disconnect the signals of television channels without giving at least three weeks' notice in writing to the affected service provider, clearly specifying the reasons for the proposed disconnection.

Niranjan said these actions were an assault on the freedom of the press and that it would cause media organisations to hesitate when reporting on sensitive issues due to fear of repercussions. “The impact of these actions extends beyond immediate censorship. When news channels are silenced or threatened, it sends a broader message that dissent and scrutiny will not be tolerated, leading to a culture of self-censorship. Journalists and media houses may refrain from covering contentious topics or holding powerful entities to account, resulting in a diminished public sphere where critical voices are muted, and only favourable narratives are allowed to flourish,” he added.

The Rajya Sabha MP urged TRAI to take action to enforce its regulations and protect the media from undue governmental influence. He also called for a thorough investigation into the illegal blocking of news channels by the Andhra Pradesh Cable TV Operators' Association and involved service providers. He further urged TRAI to ensure strict compliance with TRAI's regulations, particularly Regulation 17 of the 2017 Regulations, and demanded necessary actions against those who violated these provisions.

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