For the last few of weeks, an intense debate has been going on in Andhra Pradesh over ‘freedom of the press’.
This was sparked by the Central Bureau of Investigation’s move to freeze the bank accounts of the Telugu daily Sakshi and the television channel of the same name, which are owned by YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy as part of its investigation into his alleged disproportionate assets.
A few of days later, the Congress government in the state issued orders withholding advertisements to the daily and the channel on the pretext of the CBI inquiry. And on Friday, the government permitted the CBI to attach the properties of the Sakshi and its sister concern Janani Infra.
The journalist community in the state is vertically divided into two groups over whether or not these developments amount to gagging the press.
One group represents journalists belonging to Sakshi and the other the rival media groups – Eenadu and Andhra Jyothy, who have been prominently highlighting the CBI inquiry against Jagan and how he had floated Sakshi with illgotten money. The scribes belonging to the other print and electronic media, too, have joined one group or the other, conducting debates for several hours and carrying articles supporting or condemning the CBI action against Sakshi management.
‘The freezing of accounts, stopping of advertisements and attachment of properties might be part of the inquiry, but they would ultimately lead to the closure of the media house and it would render thousands of scribes jobless. We are worried about them, not the management,’ says Devulapalli Amar, secretary general of the Indian Journalists Union.
Ironically, Sakshi’s rival group Eenadu also cried foul when former CM Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ordered raids by the CID on Margadarshi Financiers owned by Eenadu group chairman Ramoji Rao in connection with the illegal collection of deposits from the people.Now, the same Eenadu group is supporting raids on Sakshi.
So for some, press freedom depends on which side they are on.
Read the full report ‘Journalists as sitting ducks’ by A. SRINIVASA RAO MailOnlineIndia
- Reliance openly controls Eenadu TV and the Network18 Group (indologygoa.wordpress.com)
- Kuwait is dry for Indian Media: Indian journos to Kuwaiti scribe (indologygoa.wordpress.com)