Lok Sabha orchestrated TV blackout during T-Bill session

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Lok Sabha orchestrated media blackout during T-Bill session
New Delhi, Feb 19: The nearly 80-minute blackout of the live telecast during the Telangana Bill voting session in Lok Sabha on Tuesday was not a 'technical glitch', but a deliberate move by the Lok Sabha secretariat.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told The Indian Express on Tuesday that "it was a decision of the Lok Sabha secretariat".

A probe has been ordered into the media blackout. Lok sabha TV and the secretariat of the lower house of Parliament Tuesday blamed it on a "technical snag".

Minister Kamal Nath said it was a 'decision of Lok Sabha secretariat'


The Indian Express report quotes top government sources as saying that the live telecast was turned off on instructions from the government. "We received oral instructions from an official that the live coverage should be discontinued till the contentious Bill was passed. Since he was the official we frequently deal with in connection with Lok Sabha TV coverage and visuals, we did the needful," one source said.

The live telecast of the Lok Sabha session stopped abruptly when the leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj began her speech regarding Telangana Bill. It resumed soon after the Bill was passed in the House. It took merely 23 minutes for the House to pass the controversial Bill by voice vote.

Although there were allegations that the blackout was a deliberate attempt by the government to pass the Bill behind closed doors, both Lok Sabha TV as well as the Lok Sabha secretariat maintained that a technical snag led to the telecast being stopped.

"I am told by the technical department that there was a technical snag in our main control room in Room 50 in the Parliament building. There was some problem in getting the live feed from the control room to our uplinking station in the Parliament library building. The uplinking station was working fine and that was why we could air other content. The snag happened in the control room," Lok Sabha TV's CEO Rajiv Mishra told The Indian Express.
The channel's technical staff have been asked to find out what led to the blackout and submit a report by Wednesday, he added.

However, many BJP leaders condemned the blackout. Calling it a "tactical glitch", Sushma Swaraj condemned the blackout and said it was done without her party's knowledge.

"We strongly condemn the black out of the proceedings of Lok Sabha. It was done without our knowledge...I am sorry to inform that Lok Sabha Sectt is not providing us the audio or video recording of my today's speech on Telangana Bill...I will raise this matter with the Speaker tomorrow... They say that the black out of Lok Sabha was due to a ‘technical glitch'. No. It was a tactical glitch", she tweeted.

Senior BJP leader LK Advani too slammed the government for passing the crucial bill behind closed doors. He described it as 'perversion of democracy'.

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