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Delhi HC orders cable operators to restore 4 blocked news channels in Andhra Pradesh

The Delhi High Court has ordered about 15 cable operators to restore the broadcasting of the four Telugu news channels – TV9 Telugu, Saakshi TV, 10TV, and NTV – that were taken off air in Andhra Pradesh from June 6.

The single-judge bench of Justice Mini Pushkarna passed the order in a plea by TV9, which called the blocking illegal and violative of the rules laid down by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The court reportedly ordered the immediate restoration of the news channels.

The News Broadcasters Federation lauded the decision, calling it a “landmark order addressing the unilateral and illegal blackout of news channels in Andhra Pradesh”. The broadcasters body said it “reinforces the fundamental principles of freedom of speech and expression, which are cornerstones of our democratic society”.

In a statement, the NBF said, “The High Court’s intervention underscores the importance of maintaining an open and transparent media environment, essential for the functioning of a healthy democracy… This ruling will set a precedent for upholding press freedom and protecting journalists’ rights across India.”

The four channels were taken off-air two days after the TDP came into power in Andhra Pradesh. Although the TDP government said that no instructions were issued to the cable operators, YSRCP’s S Niranjan Reddy wrote to central authorities and Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu claiming the action came on the state government’s direction.

An executive from one of the four channels, who did not wish to be named, told The Indian Express that all four channels have gone blank since Friday night. “The cable TV operators say they have been told to take them off air but they will not tell who gave the orders.’’

The executive from the TV channel said “the previous government also did the same thing. Then they paid the price.”

In May 2021, Telugu news channels TV5 and ABN Andhra Jyothi, considered to be pro-TDP, were similarly taken off air by the same cable TV operators allegedly under pressure from the YSRCP government. Newslaundry

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