AP Police issues notice to TV channel over Naidu tapes

AP Police issues notice to TV channel over Naidu tapes

In a new turn in the TDP-TRS spat spawned by "cash-for-vote" row, the Andhra Pradesh Police issued notice to T News channel considered closed to TRS in power in Telangana for airing an audio tape of purported conversation between Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and nominated MLA Elvys Stephenson.

The move against the channel sparked strong protests from media fraternity today who saw it as an "undemocratic and unconstitutional" step by the Chandrababu Naidu Government.

The notice, served last night, asked the channel to reply within three days as to why appropriate legal action should not be initiated against it, contending the audio tape it aired was "defamatory".

"Since the programme telecast on June 7 at around 8.30 pm contained material disturbing the public tranquillity, affecting the maintenance of law and order as it in violation of Section 5 and Rule 6 of cable TV news network Act, as the programme is defamatory deliberate, false with suggestive innuendos and half-truths," the notice read.

The audio tape of pertained purported talk between Naidu and the nominated MLA relating to alleged attempts by TDP to woo the latter's  support for the party nominee in Telengana Legislative Council polls.

Telangana TDP MLA Revanth Reddy and two others were arrested and remanded for allegedly trying to bribe the nominated MLA.

The airing of the audio tape has led to a slugfest between the ruling parties in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and TDP workers lodged a plethora of FIRs against TRS and its supremo and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao.

Reacting to the notice slapped on the channel, its CEO Narayan Reddy said police had no right to issue such a notice without verifying authenticity of the footage scientifically.

"We are going to lodge a complaint with the President, Prime Minister, Governor and Press Council of India. Issuing the notice itself is wrong. AP Police has not right to issue such notice. They cannot curtail the freedom of press," Reddy told PTI.

Coming out strongly against the notice issued to the channel, Telangana Union of Working Journalists said it was "undemocratic, unconstitutional and disrespectful approach of AP CM".

Meanwhile, ticking the two regional parties, BJP leader and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu asked them to keep restraint and focus on development.

Defending the Government action, Andhra Pradesh IT Minister P Raghunath Reddy said the police had issued notice to the channel for airing "false news" against chief minister and blamed Journalist unions for holding protests over it.

"The channel should reply to the notice issued by the police. Notice can be issued somebody tried to tarnish the image. Both T News and TRS office are situated in the same building.

"KCR Government had earlier filed false cases against journalists. T News channel should reveal the sources of the tapes as the ACB chief had categorically denied having released any sort of footage to anyone," Reddy alleged.

Prof Nageswar, independent MLC and political analyst said the issue between two political parties is taking unwarranted turns.

"The tussle between two political parties (TRS and TDP) is being transformed into an unwarranted confrontation between two governments and now this has spilled over to media," Nageswar said.

Telangana Minister for Irrigation T Harish Rao found fault with AP police "for not informing the local police" before serving the notices to the channel.

He charged the AP government of trying to commit more mistakes to cover up one.
"We respect constitution. Even if you (the AP Government) try to provoke us, we will not yield . We will go according to law," Rao told reporters.

He demanded the AP Government to clarify whether the voice in the taped conversation belonged to Naidu or not.

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