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2-min read

Black Columns, Photojournalists in Blindfolds: Scribes Protest Move to Ban Coverage of K'taka Assembly

In another interesting protest, the journalists attended deputy chief minister Govind Karjol’s press briefing but did not record anything.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:October 11, 2019, 5:22 PM IST
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Black Columns, Photojournalists in Blindfolds: Scribes Protest Move to Ban Coverage of K'taka Assembly
A photojournalist sitting blindfolded with cameras to protest the government's restriction.

Bengaluru: The journalists in Karnataka on Friday staged a protest against assembly speaker Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri's order to restrict media coverage of house proceedings. The journalists gathered at the Gandhi Statue in Maurya Circle in Bengaluru to raise voice against the government’s restrictions.

A photojournalist sat with cameras hung around him with his eyes were covered with a black cloth, while a popular Kannada daily Vijay Karnataka had a two black columns on the front page. In another interesting protest, the journalists attended deputy chief minister Govind Karjol’s press briefing, but did not record anything.

"It looks like those in power want to hear only what is pleasing to their ears. Tomorrow they will say they want to design the page of our newspapers, or give us a 10-minute capsule that runs in our bulletin at prime time. We must resist this, or it will not end here. We need to send them a message that all of us are here, to stand up against him," said senior journalist HR Ranganath.

Editors of all Kannada channels, journalists of all national channels, representatives of the Press Club of Bangalore, the Karnataka Women Journalists' Association and the Photojournalists' Association were all part of the two-hour long protest on Friday morning.

The Speaker has been firm on imposing the ban "on an experimental basis” where all private channels have been asked to take video feed only from Doordarshan. Until now, all channels were free to deploy multi-camera crews to record live the proceedings of the Assembly and Council sessions in Karnataka.

Editor of News18Kannada Siddu Kaloji said that since the Assembly session is on only for two more days, journalists must intensify their protests immediately. The session is scheduled to end on Saturday.

In his defence for the move, Kageri said he is following the trend of few other states was also condemned by the journalists. “If other states have to be emulated, why not emulate their models of free, quality education, their waiver of power bills for the poor, the opening-up of government jobs. Why emulate a bad example such as this?” the journalists questioned.

Ajith Hanumakkanavar, editor of a local TV channel alleged that the rights of the media have been eroded over the years.

Former Chief MInister HD Kumaraswamy, who briefly visited the protest to express his solidarity for a free press, said that a proposal to curb media access was given to him by the Home Department even when he was CM earlier this year, but he had desisted from approving it.

The Press Club of Bangalore passed a single resolution asking the Speaker to withdraw his order immediately, so that an amicable working relationship between the legislature and the fourth pillar of democracy can be restored.

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| Edited by: Sana Fazili
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