On 30 May, the day he took oath as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, YS Jaganmohan Reddy did something unprecedented. He named three media organisations – Eenadu (whose news channel is called ETV), Andhra Jyothy (whose news channel is called ABN) and TV5 – and said if they still write negative stories distorting facts, his government shall not hesitate to file defamation cases against them.
“Media houses like Eenadu, Andhra Jyothy and TV5 are known for their pro-Chandrababu Naidu rhetoric as they cannot see any other politician ruling this state. To bring back Naidu to power, they wrote whatever scrap they wanted to defame us,” said Jagan.
The Andhra Pradesh government has not gone as far as slapping defamation cases yet but it would seem the establishment is keeping a close watch on every mistake the three groups may make and make them feel the might of government authority.
The opportunity presented itself on 23 July. The following day, Speaker T Sitaram (in pic) barred the entry of representatives of the three channels on grounds that they had violated established norms. The charge was that the three channels provided live coverage to a media interaction of three suspended TDP members on 23 July while the assembly session was on.
“It has been brought to the notice of the Speaker by Government Chief Whip G Srikanth Reddy that the channel has been given live telecast from the media point while the session is going on. As directed by the Speaker, representatives of your electronic media organisation will not be permitted into the Legislature building till we receive an explanation for the said lapse,” said the letter from the Legislature Secretary to each of the three organisations.
There are two ways to access the live feed link from the Andhra Pradesh assembly. One is through live output, the other is through the YouTube link.
When one of the three channels tried to use the latter to air the proceedings of the Assembly, that too was prohibited.
The organisations responded by telling the Legislature Secretary that there were no written instructions that live telecast from the media point was not allowed while the Assembly was in session.
“However, there was an error and we will ensure it is not repeated. This is what we wrote in the letter. But there has been no response so far,” a senior management person at TV5 told Filter Kaapi.
However, Sitaram does not seem convinced by the explanation. At a press conference on Sunday, he questioned the channels asking how they could operate despite knowing the rules.
“You can wake up a person who is sleeping but you cannot do anything when one is pretending to sleep,” Sitaram was quoted as saying by Sakshi newspaper.