Hyderabad: In a new turn in the TDP-TRS spat spawned by a “cash-for-vote” row, the Andhra Pradesh Police issued a notice to the T News channel, considered closed to the Telengana Rashtra Samiti in power in Telangana, for airing an audiotape of a purported conversation between Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and nominated MLA Elvys Stephenson.
The move against the channel sparked strong protests from the media fraternity today, which saw it as an “undemocratic and unconstitutional” step by the Chandrababu Naidu Government. The notice, served last night, asked the channel to reply within three days as to why appropriate legal action should not be initiated against it, contending the audiotape it aired was “defamatory”.
“The programme telecast on June 7 at around 8.30 pm contained material disturbing the public tranquility, affected the maintenance of law and order in violation of Section 5 and Rule 6 of the Cable TV News Network Act, and is defamatory, false with suggestive innuendos and half-truths,” the notice read (paraphrased).
The audiotape depicted a conversation between Naidu and the nominated MLA relating to alleged attempts by TDP to woo the latter’s support for the party nominee in Telengana’s Legislative Council polls.
Telangana TDP MLA Revanth Reddy and two others were arrested and remanded for allegedly trying to bribe the nominated MLA.
The airing of the audio tape has led to a slugfest between the ruling parties in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. TDP workers lodged numerous FIRs against TRS and its supremo and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao as well.
Reacting to the notice slapped on the channel, its CEO Narayan Reddy said police had no right to issue such a notice without verifying authenticity of the footage scientifically. “We are going to lodge a complaint with the President, Prime Minister, Governor and Press Council of India. Issuing the notice itself is wrong. AP Police has no right to issue such notices. They cannot curtail the freedom of press,” Reddy told PTI.
Also coming out strongly against the notice issued to the channel, the Telangana Union of Working Journalists said it was an “undemocratic, unconstitutional and disrespectful approach” by the AP CM.
Meanwhile, ticking the two regional parties, BJP leader and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu asked them to restrain themselves and focus on development.