The Editors Guild of India on Wednesday criticised the Andhra Pradesh government for allegedly imposing a ban on Telugu news channels TV5 and ABN Andhra Jyoti. The two channels have been off air in many parts of the state since mid-September, according to reports.

“Such restrictions strike at the root of press freedom,” the guild said in a statement, adding that it was distressing to note the “unwritten ban”. The organisation urged the YSR Congress-led government in the state to clarify if it was responsible for stopping the telecast of the channels. “If so, it should immediately rescind any such order.”

Last week, an unidentified TV5 representative told The News Minute that three state Cabinet ministers allegedly instructed cable operators to drop the two news channels. The channels are reportedly considered to be close to the Telugu Desam Party of N Chandrababu Naidu. The ministers named by the channel are Panchayat Raj Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy, Transport Minister Perni Venkataramaiah Nani, and Civil Supplies Minister Kodali Sri Venkateswara Rao. “During the state elections period, Jagan Mohan Reddy was naming three channels TV5, ETV and ABN Andhra Jyothi, calling them yellow media, which means pro TDP,” said the TV5 official. “They first asked all their leaders not to go to the studio of these channels.” According to the official, the ruling party’s leaders were still not speaking to the channel.

“The guild urges the government not to create a situation where the constitutionally and legally mandated freedoms of media representatives are compromised,” said the editors’ organisation.

In July, TV5, ABN Andhra Jyothi and ETV had been barred from telecasting live from the state Assembly media box after being accused of not carrying the state government’s version in news reports. The channels, however, have denied they favour any political party and are reportedly thinking about taking legal action.

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