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Andhra HC Asks TRAI to Respond on Ban on Telugu News Channels

Reportedly, cable operators banned TV5 and ABN Andhra Jyothi from broadcasting after a meeteing with some YSR Congress Ministers.
Andhra HC

New Delhi: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to respond on the unofficial ban on two Telugu news channels -- TV5 and ABN Andhra Jyothi. For about two weeks now, cable operators in the state have stopped airing these two channels allegedly after pressure from some ruling YSR Congress ministers. 

Journalists and civil society organisations have led protest demonstrations demanding the immediate restoration of the 24-hour news channels. 

The court’s order comes in response to a writ petition filed by one K. Venkatesh against the ban on these channels. The next hearing is listed on September 22.

Meanwhile, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Wednesday ordered cable operators to restore TV5 after the channel approached it. ABN Andhra Jyothi is also considering approaching the tribunal.

TDSAT ordered the private cable networks to restore TV5 on to their networks within 24 hours and gave the government-operated Andhra Pradesh State Fibernet Limited two days’ time for restoration. The state government’s counsel admitted to the Tribunal that the broadcasting was disconnected due to “technical defect” in its system. 

As per the Interconnection Regulations, 2017, cable operators are obliged to give a 21-day notice to the viewers before discontinuing any channel.

The News Minute, citing a TV5 representative, had reported that three YSR Congress Ministers -- Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy , Perni Venkataramaiah Nani and Kodali Sri Venkateswara Rao (also known as Kodali Nani) – had held a meeting with cable operators and insisted that they ban these channels.  However, the government has not come out with any official statement on the matter. 

This isn’t not the first regressive action against TV channels under the YSR Congress regime. In July, the State Assembly Speaker Tammineni Sitaram barred three TV news channels, including TV5, ABN Andhra Jyothi and ETV, from broadcasting live from inside the Assembly media box for alleged violation of “established norms”.

TV5 is owned by Shreya Broadcasting Private Limited and ABN by Aamoda Broadcasting Network, both these channels are said to be biased towards the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). 

Before coming to power, chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, earlier this year, had asked his party members not to speak to any reporters from these TV channels terming them as pro-TDP. 

In 2014, cable operators in Telangana had opted for a similar unofficial ban on news channels TV9 and ABN Andhrajyothi allegedly for airing a show critical of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi. 

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