News channels pulled off air for 24 hours; channels say minister to blame

Bengaluru: Two television news channels in Karnataka have alleged that they were pulled off air in Bengaluru for several hours on state government’s orders.

TV9 and NEWS9 – both belonging to the TV9 group – allege that cable operators blacked them out on Monday night in Bengaluru and surrounding areas. After criticism and backlash from the media and the audience, both are now back on-air.

TV9 has alleged that the operators acted on a directive from state Energy Minister D K Shivakumar but the government has denied any such allegations.

“The action of the cable operators emanates from a meeting between them and Karnataka minister for Energy D K Shivakumar a few days ago, at which the minister ordered them to stop telecasting TV9 and NEWS9. He threatened them that the government will impose heavy penalties on them if they did not stop telecasting TV9 and NEWS9,” NEWS9 said in a press statement.

The minister was accused of telling operators that the channels had been working against industry standards.

The channel however alleged that it was being punished for airing an investigation against Shivakumar.

“The government has nothing to do with the blackout. Why should we target the media, especially only one channel? I think this is more an issue between the cable operators and the channel or this particular group,” state minister Dinesh Gundu Rao said.

Asked whether his colleague ordered the blackout, he said, “You have to understand that cable and channels have a lot of issues. Our government is for freedom of press, at the same time media should not abuse this freedom. That is a different issue – in this particular matter of blackout I can tell you that the government had nothing to do with it.”

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