Malayalam television channel MediaOne stopped transmission by 1.30 pm on Monday, with Editor Pramod Raman appearing on air and announcing that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had imposed a ban on the channel.
The media house challenged the order before the Kerala High Court which put on hold its implementation for two days. While putting on hold the order, Justice N Nagaresh also sought the Centre’s stand on the plea moved by Madhyamam Broadcasting Ltd which operates MediaOne channel. Senior advocate S Sreekumar and advocate K Rakesh, who represented the media group, told the high court that the channel was not involved in any anti-national activity and urged it to direct the ministry to withdraw the order.
Speaking to agencies, Rakesh said the ministry’s order was received around 1 pm on Monday and by 1.45 pm the plea was filed and by 3 pm permission was granted for urgent hearing of the matter. He confirmed that the court put on hold the order till Wednesday, the next date of hearing. Assistant Solicitor General S Manu, who appeared for the ministry, said he opposed the plea and sought time from the court to get appropriate instructions from the Centre.
Earlier, MediaOne editor Pramod Raman issued a video statement: “Dear audience, the telecast of MediaOne channel has once again been disallowed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, citing security reasons. The government has not been forthcoming with the details.”
He also said the channel would hopefully come back soon after taking legal measures.
“This is quite unexpected, we are clueless. To the best of our knowledge, there was no complaint against the channel,” Raman told The Federal.
— MediaOne TV (@MediaOneTVLive) January 31, 2022
According to him, the regular process of renewing the licence was going on since September 2021. “That is a regular procedure, On January 5, we received a show-cause notice from the ministry to cite reasons for not revoking our licence. We submitted that there was no reason to revoke the same and requested renewal. We received no communication after that until today, when we were informed that the licence cannot be renewed because of ‘security reasons’,” the editor said.
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“Security clearance is based on the security parameters set by Home Ministry. The Ministry of Home Affairs has denied the security clearance and hence the channel cannot be allowed to operate,” a letter from the ministry stated.
“We have not been given any other detail. We will fight this out legally,” Pramod said.
This is the second time MediaOne, owned by Madhyamam Broadcasting which is part of the Madhyamam Group of Companies, has been banned. In March 2020, the channel was temporarily prohibited from telecasting for allegedly violating the norms set by the ministry during coverage of the anti-CAA protests in Delhi and the riots that followed. The ban was revoked after the Centre faced widespread criticism.
Another channel, Asianet News, was also banned for the same reason.
According to MediaOne, no such specific coverage or any incident has been cited by the Centre for the ban this time.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly V D Satheesan said the I&B ministry banned the telecast without citing reasons.
“The banning of telecast of MediaOne channel without citing any reason was undemocratic. This is against natural justice. The Union government has a responsibility to cite the reason behind the ban. The government is trying to implement the agenda of Sangh Parivar which has been intolerant against unpleasant truths,” he said, adding the ban amounts to an attack on media’s freedom.