TDSAT grants relief to three previously blocked Telugu channels

The bench was headed by Justice DN Patel. Payal Kakra argued on behalf of the channels

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Delhi: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) intervened to reinstate three previously blocked channels by The Andhra Pradesh TV Cable Operators’ Association including Saakshi TV, TV9, and 10TV, among others. 

The bench was headed by Justice DN Patel. Payal Kakra argued on behalf of the channels.

According to reports, the channels were taken off the air following the announcement of Assembly and Parliamentary election results. An opposition Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) Parliamentarian alleged state coercion as the reason behind the blocks.

YSRCP member S Niranjan Reddy filed a complaint with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regarding the government's actions against the news channels. 

Reddy asserted that the Andhra Pradesh Cable TV Operators Association had blocked the channels under pressure from the state’s ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

The National Broadcasters and Digital Association issued a statement condemning the blocking of these channels, viewing it as a threat to press freedom. 

Annie Joseph, secretary general of NBDA, emphasised that no specific reasons were given for the channel blockages, contrary to TRAI regulations. 

It was alleged that this action stemmed from the channels' critical reporting on the Telugu Desam Party, which had recently won over the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party in state-level elections.

In response to NBDA's concerns, the matter was brought before the Delhi High Court, which subsequently ordered 15 multi-system operators to restore transmission of TV9, Saakshi TV, and 10TV, alongside other affected news channels that were taken off-air in Andhra Pradesh from June 6, 2024.

The National Broadcaster’s Federation welcomed the court’s decision in a statement, describing it as a landmark order addressing the unilateral and unlawful blackout of news channels in Andhra Pradesh. 

The Federation emphasised that the ruling reinforces the fundamental principles of freedom of speech and expression, which are fundamental to our democratic society.