YSR Congress demands TRAI probe into alleged illegal blocking of news channels in Andhra Pradesh

New Delhi: Ousted from power in the recent Andhra Pradesh assembly election, the YSR Congress Party on Tuesday accused the new state government of muzzling the press and demanded an investigation by the telecom regulator into the alleged illegal blocking of some news channels.

In a letter to the chairperson of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Rajya Sabha member S Niranjan Reddy claimed that several channels including TV9, NTV, 10TV and Sakshi TV were taken off air by the state’s cable TV operators’ association under “pressure and directions” from the government led by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

He alleged the channels were blocked “without lawful justification or procedural compliance”.

Terming such actions as an assault on the freedom of the press, Reddy cautioned that it could dissuade media organisations from reporting on sensitive issues for fear of punitive actions.

“Such interference creates a chilling effect on the freedom of the press, where media organisations might become hesitant to report on controversial or sensitive issues due to fear of punitive actions,” the letter stated.

The YSR Congress leader called upon TRAI to “act decisively” to enforce regulations and protect the media from “undue governmental influence”, allowing the press to operate freely without fear of retaliation or censorship.

He urged the regulator to ensure compliance with the TRAI’s regulations, particularly Regulation 17 of the 2017 Regulations, and take necessary actions against those who have violated these provisions.

There was no immediate comment from Andhra Pradesh government.