The proximity of different Telugu news channels to the powers-that-be in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana was always an open secret. With the battlelines more clear now, a churn is taking place in the media space that suggests realignments may be in the offing.
It began with My Home group Jupally Rameshwar Rao and Krishna Reddy of Megha group acquiring the controlling stake in TV9, the media house with the largest reach. It has been an ugly episode with former CEO, Ravi Prakash who founded the channel in 2004, first sacked, then slapped with police complaints and now landing in judicial custody after being charged of cheating.
Ravi Prakash (in pic) is up against powerful entities – the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh and business houses that have the strong backing of the powers-that-be in both Telugu states. And it is in the open, with YSRCP Rajya Sabha MP Vijaisai Reddy complaining to none less than the Chief Justice of India against Prakash.
Incidentally, the same corporates have also bought another big channel, 10TV, increasing their footprint in the regional broadcast space. Rameshwar Rao is also a member of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Board, another pointer to his political clout.
TV5 and ABN, two other Telugu channels have been off air in Andhra Pradesh since 13 September, accused by the Jaganmohan Reddy government of having a pro-TDP bias in its reportage. Jagan’s own Sakshi channel had been at the receiving end and faced a boycott by the TDP and a brief blackout when Chandrababu Naidu was CM.
The Congress has been trying to be on the side of those targeted by the TRS regime. Congress MP Revanth Reddy visited Ravi Prakash in Hyderabad central prison.
So how do the media owners negate the aggression unleashed in the two states? With Congress rudderless and powerless, the BJP seems the only option. Which is why the meeting between V Radhakrishna, the owner-editor of Andhra Jyoti paper and ABN news channel, with Union Home minister Amit Shah raised eyebrows. Radhakrishna is extremely close to Naidu and was accused of running a campaign against Jagan during the elections.
So questions are being raised if he is trying to mend fences between Naidu and the big two in the BJP. Or is he seeking help for himself to get his channel restored in Andhra Pradesh. Is the BJP looking for media support in the two states, where it is looking to ramp itself up. Significantly, last month, Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan spent an hour with Radhakrishna in Hyderabad.