News broadcaster bodies condemn blackout of channels in Andhra Pradesh

While no reasons were given for blocking the channels, it was alleged that the action taken against them was in connection with their criticism of the Telugu Desam Party, which defeated the incumbent Yuvajana Sramika Rythu (YSR) Congress Party in the assembly elections.

Lata Jha
First Published25 Jun 2024, 02:06 PM IST
Channels including TV9 Telugu, Saakshi TV, 10TV, and NTV had allegedly been taken off-air from 6 June by the Cable TV Operators Association of Andhra Pradesh. (Pixabay)
Channels including TV9 Telugu, Saakshi TV, 10TV, and NTV had allegedly been taken off-air from 6 June by the Cable TV Operators Association of Andhra Pradesh. (Pixabay)

The News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) and the News Broadcasters & Digital Authority (NBDA) have condemned the blackout of channels including TV9 Telugu, Saakshi TV, 10TV, and NTV, which had allegedly been taken off-air from 6 June by the Cable TV Operators Association of Andhra Pradesh.

While no reasons were given for blocking these channels, which is contrary to regulations laid down by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, it was alleged that the action taken against them was in connection with their reporting that criticised the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which defeated the incumbent Yuvajana Sramika Rythu (YSR) Congress Party in the state assembly elections.

On Monday, the Delhi High Court ordered about 15 multi-system operators to restore transmission of the blocked channels.

“The step taken by a few cable operators is not in the interest of broadcasters, the media nor the public and sets a dangerous precedent. Political parties must recognise that broadcasters have the freedom to decide what to telecast and such editorial freedom cannot be subject to any interference,” the NBDA said in a statement.

The boycott of channels is not the way forward and alludes to a threat to the freedom of the press, the NBDA said. It noted that such arbitrary action has far-reaching consequences on the business of broadcasters, causing daily losses and impacting viewership adversely and thereby affecting the channel’s ratings and its advertising revenue. It also has long-term implications on the relationship between broadcasters and advertisers.

Also Read: News TV kicks into high gear as elections rolls on

The blackout had raised serious concerns about press freedom as it came on the day of the election results and amid reports of political pressure being brought upon cable operators to block these news channels due to the change in the political leadership in Andhra Pradesh, NBF said in a statement.

“Andhra Pradesh is the largest market in terms of television consumers, with over 65 lakh viewing news via their set-top-boxes. The news channels, serving in public interest, were removed from at least 62 lakh boxes, denying right to information by the audience,” NBF said.

The High Court's intervention underscored the importance of maintaining an open and transparent media environment, essential for the functioning of a healthy democracy, it added.

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First Published:25 Jun 2024, 02:06 PM IST
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