Blackout of channels in UP: I&B Minister promises action

New Delhi: Amid reports that two news channels were blacked out in Uttar Pradesh on Monday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari today asked the managements of the channels to give a complaint over which action would be taken.

“I think it is extremely unwarranted, it is extremely uncalled for and if at all any channel has been taken off the air for malicious reasons or a malafide reason,” he told reporters here when referred to the reports that the two channels were blocked by the state government.

“It is extremely uncalled for that freedom of speech and expression is trampled upon in this manner,” he added.

The Minister said he would request the management to “give a complaint to us and we would take action against the concerned Multi System Operator or the local cable operator.”

The reports suggested that the channels were blacked out by the Akhilesh Singh Yadav government ostensibly over the coverage on the recent Saifai festival.

Tewari said the UPA government had over the past ten years never ever used either its regulatory remit or its licensing remit to stifle or muzzle any broadcasting channel or any newspaper for that matter.

“I think state governments would be well served to follow the example of the UPA government. I think dissent, criticism and critical appraisal are very much a part of democratic discourse.

“We may agree, we may not agree but we have the right to put across our view point and we do hope that (view point) gets carried in its entirety also. But to strongarm broadcasting companies does not augur well for democracy,” Tewari said.

Earlier in his speech at an event organised by the Broadcast Engineering Society, Tewari said that it was said in broadcasting that if content is king, distribution is God.