Andaman govt tightens screws on local media

BY Andaman Chronicle| IN Media Freedom | 09/01/2010
The administration has taken one more step to cut advertising support to the local media, by empowering a department to stop ads.
From the ANDAMAN CHRONICLE. Pix: local journalists confer at the meeting.


                    Reprinted from the Andaman Chronicle



Port Blair, Jan 5: It is a tight slap on the local media, or call it a new year?s gift when the A&N Administration threw a Gazette Notification upon the media delegating all powers to the Director of IP&T to stop release of advertisements to any local newspapers.


To add to it, the A&N Administration declared a committee to decide on stopping advertisements to the local media. The shocking part of this was the Director Sports Arts & Culture, one of the most controversial departments of the A&N Administration, was made as one of the committee members.


The saddest part of the entire game played by the Administration was that it never informed the local media or published any draft notification before finalizing the notification. The Gazette Notification was dated 3rd of November 2009 but was kept a secret till date. 


A press meet was called by the Director IP&T today at Teal House, Port Blair at 12.30 pm which was supposed to be an interaction session on the occasion of New Year 2010. But the meeting turned into a protest platform where the Editors/ representatives of the local media challenged the intentions of the A&N Administration. The local media was of the opinion that the Higher Officials of the Administration are being misled by certain employees in the IP Division who have personal grudge against few local journalists who have published reports that went against them.


The protest continued for almost two hours and later the Director IP&T Shri Binay Bhushan agreed to record the minutes of the meeting officially and approach the A&N Administration to cancel the present Notification.


The local media has been struggling to survive for the past one and a half years after the Administration decided to cut the number of advertisements to private newspapers and promote the Administration?s mouthpiece ?The Daily Telegrams?.


To protest against the atrocities of the A&N Administration, last year the local media had even gone to an extent of publishing blank editorials for days together. Media representatives had also written to the Ministry lodging their protest while seeking justice. It had even boycotted the National Press Day organized by the Information & Publicity Division and had organized a separate function for the first time in the history of the islands.


Later the A&N Administration prepared a committee headed by the former Information officer of Press Information Bureau Shri O.N. Jaiswal to study the problems faced by the local media and give suggestions to have a healthy press in the islands. Although the Jaiswal committee had submitted a set of recommendations by consulting with the media persons, but to the surprise of all not even a single point in the recommendation was considered.


The local media has termed this as a black day in the history of press in the islands. It demanded the A&N Administration to be transparent in its approach and not to try and suppress the freedom of press in the islands.


?We have had enough of British Raj in this Kalapani. We do not want it should be repeated in any form?, said Shri V. Saravana Kumar, Editor of Sagar, a local Hindi Daily.


?If the Administration does not stop its atrocities on the media, we will be forced to go the Delhi and organize dharna so that the country should know?, others opined.
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