On September 12, 214 The Chief Minister of Telangana K Chandrasekhar Rao made a derogatory remark by saying he would “bury alive TV channels that have dared to insult the Telangana Assembly, its MLAs, and Telangana self-respect” and “won’t hesitate to break their neck and then throw them out”. While TV9 and ABN channels were blacked out following the statement, the matter escalated further, with the aggrieved parties approaching the TDSAT for action and several journalists’ bodies objecting to the statement.
The Press Council of India set up a committee on September 12 to inquire about the matter and suggest remedial measures. The committee consists of senior journalists Rajeev Ranjan Nag, Convener, Krishna Prasad, Member and K Amarnath, Member.
The committee visited Hyderabad on September 16 and an open inquiry was conducted.
The committee said: “The Chief Minister of Telangana did make the statements attributed to him from a public forum that he would break the necks and bury the media persons and that they should salute the Telangana people if they wish to live in Telangana. By making these statements from a public platform, The Chief Minister of Telangana violated the letter and spirit of article 19 (1) (a), (e) and (g) of the Constitution of India. A poetic flourish is no license for tendentious remarks in a charged atmosphere.”
The committee recommends that PCI and Government of India should impress upon the CM of Telangana state that blatant threats to the media and media personals violates the oath of office he took to protect and defend the constitution of India and follow the rule of Law.
The committee also recommended that the case registered against journalists for participating in protest action should be withdrawn or fast tracked.
On the other hand, in the matter of plugging off the signals of TV 9 and ABN, committee said, “The state government should immediately take steps to enable MSOs to withdraw their illegal blackout of TV 9 and ABN Andhra Jyoti in the interest of freedom of media and people’s right to know as enshrined into the constitution.”
It may be recalled that the NBA had also condemned the blackout. “Blacking out a licensed channel is an anti democratic action that goes against the Constitutional principles of free speech,” it had said in a statement.