Andhra Pradesh HC Notice To TRAI Over Off-Air Channels

The AP high court on Friday issued notices to the Union information & broadcasting ministry and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) over removal of two free-to-air vernacular news channels by cable operators. Kadumanchi Venkatesh, a lawyer from Dachepalli in Guntur district, moved the HC over blockade of the news channels without giving any reasons and no prior intimation.

Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, senior counsel Ambati Sudhakar Rao argued that removing free-to-air channels, which are part of the package for which the petitioner has paid, is arbitrary and illegal. Also, removal of news channels without giving any reason is against the principles of natural justice and violation of articles 14 and 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution.

In his plea, Venkatesh said he used to watch the news channels regularly and paid 300 per month to the cable operator for the package. He said he was forced to approach the court after the cable operator did not restore the removed channels even after repeated requests. Sudhakar Rao said political pressure was behind the removal of the two channels which is nothing but curtailing freedom of speech and expression. He appealed to the court to direct TRAI and the I&B ministry to take necessary action so that the channels are restored and punitive action taken against the cable operators.

The HC bench, headed by Justice DVSS Somayajulu, issued notices to the respondents and posted the matter for further hearing to September 27.―Times of India

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