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Andhra cable TV operators blocking news channels without reason sets dangerous precedent: NBDA

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

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No regulations attributed to blocking channels that are contrary to TRAI regulations: NBDA’s Annie Joseph

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Delhi: News Broadcasters and Digital Authority (NBDA) released a statement stating that it was surprised to note that the carriage of signals of Sakshi TV, a member of NBDA and three other news broadcasters (TV9, NTV and 10TV) was blocked, by the Cable TV Operators Association of Andhra Pradesh. 

Annie Joseph, secretary general, NBDA, stated, “No reasons have been attributed for blocking the signals of these channels which is contrary to the TRAI regulations. It is alleged that the action taken against the channels is in connection with their reporting criticising the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which defeated the incumbent Yuvajana Sramika Rythu (YSR) Congress Party in state-level elections.”

Additionally, NBDA stated that the step taken by a few cable operators is not in the interest of broadcasters, the media or the public while setting a dangerous precedent. 

Joseph in the statement added that political parties must recognise that broadcasters have the freedom to decide what to telecast and such editorial freedom cannot be subject to any interference. Such interference would lead to the media losing its independence and it would result in the violation of Article 19(1)(a), and  Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. 

The statement further highlighted that the arbitrary action has consequences on the business of the broadcasters causing substantial daily losses while also impacting the viewership adversely, thereby affecting the channel/s ratings and consequently the advertisement revenue. The situation also has long-term implications for the relationship between the broadcasters and the advertisers. 

“NBDA requests the newly elected Government of Andhra Pradesh to strive to uphold the principles of a free and independent press and ensure that all broadcasters can operate without interference. The public’s right to access diverse sources of news is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and any attempts to silence the media must be swiftly addressed and rectified,” Joseph added. 

Joseph further requested the intervention of the Government of Andhra Pradesh to urge the cable operators to review its stand and avoid a situation of confrontation which is not in the interest of the stakeholders nor the public interest. 

Some news channels went 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 were levelled against the NDA government, comprising TDP, BJP and Janasena.

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.

NBDA TRAI
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