More than 4 months of channel ban

  • Journalists protest in a big

  • Politicians, public intellectuals attack govt., MSOs

Hyderabad, October 21: The unofficial ban imposed on TV9 and ABN, two Telugu news channels, in Telangana has been roundly condemned by political leaders and intellectuals in twin cities on Monday. It was 129 days ago that the Multi System Operators (MSO’s) in Telangana region pulled out the two channels for allegedly showing anti-Telanagna content.

It was rather a cumulative effect. The two channels are perceived as anti-Telangana during the prolonged movement. They allegedly ridiculed the movement and its leaders. In the height of the movement the live vans (DSNGs) of these channels were not allowed to enter Osmania University campus. The students were very angry with the way the channels negatively depicted the movement. The managements of the channels have, of course, a different story. Mr V Radhakrishna who was born in Nizamabad district to patents who migrated from Challapalli in Krishna district, rightly claims to be a pucca Telangana person. But his close links to N Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP and his own community background make him suspect in the eyes of the core Telangana protagonists. Ravi Prakash, the CEO of TV9, is another person whose protestations are not trusted by the MSOs. A very enterprising person from Coastal Andhra region, Ravi Prakash made it big in his short career as a journalist. From a junior reporter in a weekly, Suprabhatam in mid-1990s, to the CEO of a channel in 2003, less than 10 years, was a spectacular journey. Both are believed to be very successful in their businesses.

When K Srinivasa Reddy, leader of Jounalists’ Union, organized a meeting to sort out the problem and invited the MSOs and the MD and CEO who are running the two channels, the MSO leaders came in full strength but the two star journalists sent their minions. If they were really interested in resolving the issue, they should have attended the meeting, sat with the MSOs to find peaceful settlement, commented many journalist who were present there. The owner of ABN and the CEO of TV9 had a political point in dragging Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) into the picture by alleging that the latter was behind the decision of the MSOs to ban the two channels. KCR initially argued that the government is in no way concerned with the development and it was a dispute between the channels and the MSOs and it has to be resolved by them. But he later walked into the trap by losing temper at a Warangal meeting to commemorate poet Kaloji. He came out heavily on the channels and swore to bury them ten kilometers deep. He said he would salute the MSOs for their bold decision to take the channels off the transmission line. That indiscretion and arrogance made him very unpopular at the national level with Arnab Goswami of Times Now attacking Telangana chief minister with jibes. KCR had maintained a studied silence ever since. But the damage has been done.

The rally at Indira Park where scores of journalists sat on a day-long fast was addressed by luminaries of civil society. Educationists Chukka Ramaiah and Professor G Haragopal led the tirade against the government and the MSOs for blocking the channels. Journalists expressed anguish at the prospect of losing their jobs because of loss of business due to the ban on their channels. The four months of KCR’s undemocratic and autocratic rule has given enough indication to the impending five-year rule, Tammineni Veerabhadram, CPM leader, commented. Devulapalli Amar, a national leader of journalists, has warned KCR not take the media for granted. He said strong leaders like Indira Gandhi had to eat a humble pie when they confronted the media. K Srinivasa Reddy, another leader of journalist union, said KCR would meet the same fate as Indira Gandhi in getting humiliated by the people. Bhatti Vikarmarka, former deputy speaker and Congress leader, said the government has to take action against the guilty MSOs. Ponnam Prabhakar, Congress leader, criticized the government for its negative attitude towards the media. Julakanti Ranga Reddy, CPM leader, said it was because of the publicity given by the media that KCR became a big leader and a chief minister. A lot of TDP leaders like Ramana, Krishna Yadav, BJP leaders like Nagam Janardhan Reddy, Baddam Balreddy and Ramachandra Rao, Congress leaders like Mallu Ravi and PWO leader Sandhya and many other expressed their displeasure at the attitude of the government and the MSOs. All of them had demanded that the airing of the two channels has to be restored without loss of any more time. Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javdekar said in Delhi at the same time of protests in Hyderabad that the ban on the channels is illegal and undemocratic.

The struggle to get the channels back into the drawing rooms in Telangana will be continued in right earnest. It is time the MSOs allowed the channels to be shown and the Telangana government has to advise the MSOs not to continue in their foolhardy ways.

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