Re: Committee to probe threats to media in Telengana
It has been brought to my notice that the Chief Minister of Telengana, Shri K Chandrasekhar Rao, reportedly said while addressing a public meeting at Warangal City that he would break the neck of those in the media that insult the pride of Telengana and its culture and self respect. He also reportedly said that the media should salute the people of Telengana if they want to live in the state, otherwise they would be buried 10 KMs deep.
He reportedly made these remarks after some journalists protested against the blocking of transmission of two Telugu news channels, TV9 and ABN Andhra Jyothi by the Multiple System Operators (MSOs) since June 16, 2014, believed to be at the behest of the Telengana Government after the TV9 Channel broadcast a program allegedly derogatory to the newly elected MLAs of Telengana state. The heads and editors of the channel repeatedly apologized for the program unconditionally in letters to the Speaker of the Telengana Legislative Assembly and the Telengana MLAs.
Several persons including the representatives of the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) and its affiliated Telengana Union of Working Journalists (TUWJ) complained to the Chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI) that the remarks of the Chief Minister are directed against the media personnel to intimidate them and threaten them of dire consequences if they criticize the omissions and commissions of his government.
After careful consideration of the matter on the basis of material available in the public domain, I as the Chairman of the Press Council of India, prima facie believe that the remarks made by the Chief Minister of Telengana Shri K Chandrasekhar Rao amount to intimidation of the media personnel under threat of dire consequences, and violate the fundamental right of freedom of Speech and expression of the media guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution, and also the rights guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (e) and (g).
Accordingly, I hereby appoint a three member committee of senior journalists consisting of Shri Rajeev Ranjan Nag, (Convener), Shri K Amarnath (Member) and Shri Krishna Prasad of Outlook Magazine (Member) to inquire into the matter and report to me at an early date.
The Committee may set its own procedure and make its recommendations for protection of the media in Telengana from threats and intimidation.
The Committee is requested in particular to enquire into the following and suggest remedial measures:-
(i) Whether the CM Telengana made the statements attributed to him that he would break the necks and bury underground media persons and that they should salute the Telengana people if they wish to live in Telengana, and whether this violates Article 19 (1) (a), (e) and (g) of the Constitution?
(ii) Whether there is any threat perception to the media in Telengana and its free functioning?
(iii) What steps are necessary for the protection of the media in Telengana in discharging its duties to the public?
In this connection the Committee should meet and talk to the local media, including journalists, organizations, managements, editors, and other journalists of newspapers and journals in Telengana, as well as to the authorities and with other concerned.
The authorities shall extend all cooperation and support to the committee, and ensure that no one interferes with the functioning of the committee in any way.
Press Council of India