Senior journalist and popular journalist union leader Devulapalli Amar is facing a piquant situation over the “unofficial” ban by the YSR Congress party government headed by chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on two Telugu television news channels – ABN Andhra Jyothy and TV5.
Known for their pro-Telugu Desam Party and anti-Jagan stand, these two channels have been facing blackout by the multi-system operators (MSOs) in AP, particularly in Krishna and Guntur districts, since September 12 evening.
Apparently, there were oral instructions from Jagan’s ministers to the MSOs for banning these two channels, who have been indulging in attack on the YSRC government in the state.
Particularly, during the recent Chalo Atmakur episode, these channels have given a completely one sided version.
Naturally, this ban has evoked strong protests from journalists’ unions and other media houses, barring, of course, Jagan’s own media house Sakshi.
While the channels are challenging the blackout by lodging a complaint with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), they are also asking their viewers to protest against the ban.
Five years ago, when the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government headed by K Chandrasekhar Rao imposed a similar “unofficial” ban on two channels – ABN Andhra Jyothy and TV9, the journalists’ unions led by Devulapalli Amar staged massive protest demonstrations.
Amar condemned the ban stating that it was an attack on the freedom of press and stifling the voice of the media. He waged a relentless battle till the ban was lifed.
But now, Amar is an advisor to Jagan on national media affairs and inter-state affairs. Since he is in official position, he cannot raise his voice against ban on ABN and TV5, though heart in hearts, he is against such attempts to impose curbs in the media.
The other journalist union leaders, who are obviously envious of Amar’s position, are using this opportunity to attack him for being silent when the Jagan government is stifling the voice of the two channels.
“He has claimed that despite his position, he will strive for upholding the journalists’ rights. Why is he silent now?” a union leader asked.
But Amar is helpless. He has already resigned from the posts in all journalists’ unions including as the president of Indian Journalists’ Union. So, he cannot speak for journalists as long as he is with the government.
Who knows, he might have advised Jagan to revoke the ban on the channels?