Jan 8, 2011
‘Cable mafia threat to freedom of expression’
Day & Night News demands CBI Inquiry against Cable mafia in Punjab
“You can stifle me, you can stifle a television news station or a newspaper, you can take us off the cable, you can even shoot the messenger, but you can't stifle the flame of freedom, the flame of free speech, which has been upheld by our Constitution,” said Kanwar Sandhu, Managing Editor, Day & Night News
Day & Night News, which launched as a 24-hour satellite television news station from Chandigarh in August 2010, has demanded a CBI inquiry into the continuous and deliberate interference with its signal by Fastway Transmissions Pvt Ltd, Ludhiana.
Addressing a press conference at Chandigarh on Saturday afternoon, the television news station’s Managing Editor Kanwar Sandhu termed the interference as a direct assault on the freedom of the press, and an attempt to deny the viewers of the region independent and credible news media choices.
The Day & Night News Managing Editor said that the cable company has been blacking/ muting out Day & Night News more as a rule than an exception for more than three months now. He cited specific instances with dates of interference with the signal.
- After the exit of Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal from the Government and the Shiromani Akali Dal in October 2010, the coverage accorded to him was either blacked out or tuned out. In one instance, the cable company patched the audio of a cartoon channel on Day & Night News.
- On December 15, 2010, when Day & Night News ran a report on the Youth Akali Dal patron and former Punjab minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia’s meeting/ rally at Mohali, from which supporters started walking out when he began to speak, the cable carrier switched off the news station.
- On December 22, 2010, Day & Night News was blacked out for showing Punjab Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh’s Road Show at Moga.
- On December 25, 2010, the cable company first blacked out, and then muted the audio of Day & Night News, without any apparent provocation. It also altered the slot of Day & Night News on the cable spectrum without intimation.
- Since December 25, 2010, the audio of Day & Night News has not been restored.
The Day & Night News Managing Editor said that Kansan News Pvt Ltd, Chandigarh, which promotes Day & Night News, has a legally binding Carriage Agreement with Fastway Transmission Pvt Ltd.
According to the Agreement, the distribution company cannot interfere with the content in any way. Also, Day & Night News has been regularly paying the carriage fee to Fastway Transmissions in advance, he added.
The Day & Night News Managing Editor said that his team has taken up the issue with the cable company. He said his associates have been told that ‘so far, you have seen us doing this only in Punjab. We will do it in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and J&K too.’
Kanwar Sandhu appealed to the constitutional authorities in the states of the northern Indian region, particularly Punjab, to defeat the nefarious designs of the cable mafia from spreading its wings and eroding the fundamental freedom of free speech and expression.
“You can stifle me, you can stifle a television news station or a newspaper, you can take us off the cable, you can even shoot the messenger, but you can't stifle the flame of freedom, the flame of free speech, which has been upheld by our Constitution,” Kanwar Sandhu said.
“In the five months that we have been on air, we have not only reported news developments fairly, our endeavour has been to give a voice to the region. We have reached out to all shades of political diversity for their opinion on issues of common public concern,” Kanwar Sandhu said.
The Day & Night News Managing Editor disclosed that he had sent a legal notice to Fastway Transmission for all the illegalities that have been committed by them.
Kanwar Sandhu said that when the first instance of interference with the signal of Day & Night News occurred on October 15, 2010, he had written to the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Minister, Ambika Soni. The I&B Secretary, Raghu Menon, took cognisance of the representation and wrote to the Punjab Chief Secretary, Subodh C Agrawal, asking him to inquire into the complaint.
In his letter to the Punjab Chief Secretary, Raghu Menon noted that similar complaints had been received regularly from the state of Punjab from different quarters, including those from MPs and MLAs and other elected public representatives.
(Journalists for Society)