Four news channels off air in Andhra Pradesh post polls; YSRCP reaches out to TRAI

Allegations of channels — TV9, NTV, 10TV and Sakshi TV— being blocked have been levelled against the NDA government.


Published Jun 23, 2024 | 5:23 PM Updated Jun 23, 2024 | 5:23 PM

News channels. Representational Image. (iStock)

Some news channels have gone off air at several places in Andhra Pradesh following the declaration of the results of the Assembly and Parliamentary elections with an Opposition YSRCP Parliamentarian alleging coercion by the state government leading to them being blocked.

Allegations of channels — TV9, NTV, 10TV and Sakshi TV— being blocked have been levelled against the NDA government, comprising TDP, BJP and Jana Sena.

YSRCP Rajya Sabha member S Niranjan Reddy complained to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) over the alleged blocking of these four vernacular news channels by the government.

Also Read: YSRCP to initiate contempt proceedings against Andhra government

Alleges coercion by government

In a recent letter to TRAI, Reddy claimed the Andhra Pradesh Cable TV Operators Association took these four channels off the air due to alleged coercion by the TDP-led government in the state.

“I am compelled to bring to your (TRAI) esteemed attention the illegal resolution passed by the Andhra Pradesh Cable TV Operators Association under pressure and directions from the newly formed government to permanently block several news channels,” Reddy said.

He alleged TV9, NTV, 10TV and Sakshi TV were blocked ‘without any lawful justification or procedural compliance.’

Overwhelmed by a negative publicity onslaught over several years allegedly by rivals, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had established Sakshi newspaper and television channel around 2008 to disseminate a counter-narrative.

Meanwhile, a local multi-system operator (cable TV service provider) from the Godavari region confirmed these four channels were blocked.

“Yes, these four channels were blocked and this decision would have been taken at the management level and we have no role to play. The management does not consult us,” the operator who did not wish to identify herself told PTI on Sunday.

‘Took a supportive role to YSRCP’

She observed the channels which allegedly took a supportive role to the erstwhile YSRCP government were taken off the air while noting that the new channels currently being telecast include TV5, ABN Andhrajyothi and ETV.

Except for satellite television service providers such as Tata Play and others, the operator noted that most multi-system operators and AP FibreNet took these channels off air, which were allegedly viewed as pro-YSRCP media houses.

The operator, who services up to 300 households with cable TV connections observed that the blockade began even before N Chandrababu Naidu took oath as the Chief Minister.

Some of the blocked channels do enjoy high viewership in both the Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, prompting customers to question why they were not available.

“Customers will definitely ask. Why wouldn’t they ask as to why these channels were blocked,” the operator said, adding that a similar phenomenon did play out during the YSRCP regime between 2019 and 2024 in the form of the alleged blockade of some news channels such as TV5 and ABN Andhrajyothi.

Also Read: Naidu keeps his vow, returns to Andhra Assembly as chief minister

‘No clarity yet’

According to the operator, channels viewed as pro-TDP used to be available at an extra charge while channels viewed as supporting the YSRCP when it was in power were offered free, and things might have seen a reversal now. However, there is no clarity yet, the operator noted.

The YSRCP Rajya Sabha member appealed to the regulator to conduct a thorough investigation and uphold the principles of a free and independent press by ‘preventing undue governmental influence over media and broadcasting services.’

Meanwhile, TDP spokesperson Jyotshna Tirunagari told PTI, “The TDP always believes in the freedom of speech and we give a lot of respect to the press and media. And we always believe in journalism as a very strong pillar for the society and the state.”

She observed that the ruling party always accepts constructive criticism.

Further, the TDP spokesperson highlighted that the first signature by the newly-elected Andhra Pradesh Speaker C Ayyannapatrudu on Saturday was to revoke the suspension on ETV, ABN Andhrajyothi and TV5, channels which were allegedly barred from entering the House during the YSRCP regime.

Moreover, she claimed the party does not categorise channels like ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’ as done by former chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy.

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