TV ban: Law Minister backs Speaker’s decision

 Karnataka Legislative Assembly session, Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru

The ruling BJP defended Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri’s decision to prohibit news channels from covering the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, even as the Opposition Congress called it “the murder of democracy.” 

Kageri had ordered that news channels should not be allowed to record the proceedings of the winter session of the legislature, saying it was in line with the system that exists in the Parliament. Kageri said private news channels could use the feed from public broadcaster Doordarshan, which was roped in to cover the session.

Taking the Speaker’s side, Law Minister J C Madhuswamy said this system was prevalent in many other states and that it was a decision taken at a conference of all Speakers.

“This proposal is ten years old. The Speaker alone shouldn’t be blamed,” he said. 

But Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah minced no words in criticising the Speaker’s decision to keep news cameras out. “With news channels around, legislators would be on their toes,” Siddaramaiah said during a debate.

“I request the Speaker to reconsider his decision. Not everyone can read a newspaper. Electronic media is the most effective medium to reach the people of the state.”

Siddaramaiah pointed out that the Congress government he headed had plans to start its own TV channel to broadcast Assembly proceedings. “But we dropped that idea,” he said.

“My personal view is that curtailing press rights will only hurt democracy. There must be transparency in the way this House functions.”

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