New Delhi: Taking a strong view of blacklisting of some channels in Telangana, the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Wednesday directed the Telangana state government and Multi-System Operators (MSOs) to resume transmission of a popular news channel without any delay.
The TDSAT lambasted both MSOs in the state and the home secretary for “disconnecting” the signals of TV9 on an “unreasonable and notional grounds”.
While hearing the matter, the Tribunal termed the blacklisting as an “unnecessary punishment” for TV9 and against the interest of lawful business practices. “The blacking out of the petitioner’s channel on grounds of alleged or perceived threat of mob violence brings in the issue of the petitioner’s rights to speech and expression and to carry on trade and business guaranteed by the Constitution,” the Tribunal’s chairperson Justice Aftab Alam said in his order.
As long as the contents of the petitioner’s broadcast do not violate any law, the channels cannot be taken off-air on threat of violence, he said. “In such a case, it is those who indulge in violence would be breaking the law and the State and its authorities must act against the offenders and not against the broadcaster. We have, therefore, no option but to direct respondent no.1 to resume the transmission of the petitioner’s channels without any delay,” he said.
The TDSAT also directed the Home Secretary of Telangana and Hyderabad Police to ensure necessary protection to the Telangana MSOs.