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August 3, 2000
Tamil TV channels go off the air in Karnataka
M D Riti in Bangalore
For Tamils in Karnataka who were glued to their television sets on Monday, when news of Dr Rajakumar having been kidnapped first broke, it was a rude shock. All the seven Tamil channels shown in Bangalore disappeared from their screens.
The Tamil channels that could be viewed in Bangalore were Sun, Raj, Raj Digital, Vijay, Jaya, Pudhugai and Tamil Doordarshan.
In some areas, the channels went off one at a time, starting with the most popular and politically connected Sun and followed by Vijay. In other areas, all went off the air almost simultaneously.
At first, people thought it was a general failure, as telephone, power and Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited lines were down till afternoon on Monday. Gradually, as satellite television channels began coming on again by afternoon, it became obvious that only the Tamil channels were off.
"We thought it may have been a justifiable fear on the part of individual cable operators, who feared an assault on their offices or transmission centres in the midst of residential localities," said K Balasubramanyam, a bank officer from Malleswaram.
"We could not even get through to the cable operators, as all had downed shutters and gone away."
"Life is more or less normal and nobody is targeting us now, except for the cable operators and their own brand of censorship," said an indignant Bhama Gopalan, a housewife from Langford Town.
"Is it the fault of all Tamils if a Veerappan kidnaps a Dr Rajakumar. Nobody else in Bangalore seems to feel so, except for our cable operators, who keep telling us that they fear reprisal. What reprisal? Is this a police state with censorship?"
"The decision is not ours. The channels are not being beamed to us," said two cable operators.
Siti Cable is a major satellite television channel provider in Bangalore. It's officials said, "All entertainment channels are off on a directive from the Karnataka Film Chamber. Except for Kannada channels. And they too will not show entertainment programmes."
Until now, all Kannada channels, especially Siti Cable's own, were blitzing viewers with Dr Rajakumar films.
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