afaqs! news bureau

Andhra Cable TV association blocks news channels including Sakshi TV; NBDA reacts

It is alleged that the action taken against the channels is in connection with their reporting criticising the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

The Andhra Pradesh TV Cable Operators’ Association has permanently blocked several news channels, including TV9, NTV, Sakshi TV, and 10TV. The channels cannot be accessed by Andhra Pradesh viewers through cable, and are now only available on direct to-home services.

News Broadcasters & Digital Authority (NBDA) is surprised to note this as carriage of signals of Sakshi TV, a member of NBDA is blocked by the Cable TV Operators Association of Andhra Pradesh. 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.

NBDA states that 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. Such interference would lead to 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. Boycott of channels is not the way forward and alludes to a threat to the freedom of the press.

NBDA notes that such arbitrary action has far reaching consequences on the business of the broadcasters causing substantial daily losses while also significantly impacting the viewership adversely, thereby affecting the channel/s ratings and consequently the advertisement revenue. This situation also has long-term implications on 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.

NBDA seeks 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 in public interest.

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