I&B Bans Malayalam News Channel; An Organised Attempt To Scrutinise A Particular Community?

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I&B Bans Malayalam News Channel; An Organised Attempt To Scrutinise A Particular Community?

It is the second time that MediaOneTV has been barred from the telecast in recent years. In March 2020, the centre had imposed a two-day ban on the channel, along with another Malayalam news channel, Asianet, while reporting the Delhi pogrom.

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Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, on January 31, barred the telecast of Malayam news channel MediaOne TV citing "security concerns". The channel's name was removed from the list of permitted channels by the I&B Ministry after the "Union home ministry's refusal to give security clearance".

The channel had applied for broadcast permissions to be renewed for ten years, from September 30, 2021, to September 29, 2031.

In the legal action against the ban, MediaOne TV filed a petition in Kerala High Court. Acting on the petition, Justice N Nagaresh deferred the order of the I&B Ministry for two days.

The court stayed the implementation of the government directive until its next hearing on Wednesday. The single-judge bench of the court questioned Additional Solicitor General S Manu to get instructions from the Union ministry on the matter and also issued notice to Planet Cast Media Services Limited, which provides broadcasting services to the channel.

Following the High Court stay, the channel announced that they would soon resume transmission, which was suspended around noon, reported the Indian Express.

Ban Drew Flak From Various Quarters

The unexplained ban imposed on MediaOne TV drew flak from various quarters, including Kerala Chief Minister, political leaders, and journalists.

CM Pinarayi Vijayan said in his statement that "there did not seem to have been any explanation on why the functioning of the news channel was blocked. If there were serious issues, they should be examined separately and resolved through Constitutional means," reported The Hindu.

Member of Parliament ET Mohammed Basheer called the ban the centre's attempt to silence political dissent through outright fascism.

Member of Legislative Assembly Dr MK Muneer condemned the channel's ban and called it silencing of critical voices.

MediaOne TV Banned In Past

The channel is owned by Madhyamam Broadcasting Ltd, many of whose investors are members of the Kerala chapter of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

It is the second time that MediaOneTV has been barred from the telecast in recent years. In March 2020, the centre had imposed a two-day ban on the channel, along with another Malayalam news channel, Asianet. While reporting the Delhi pogrom, the channels were charged of violating provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1998.

The centre said that both the channels' reporting on Delhi violence seemed biased and deliberately focused on the vandalism of CAA supporters. The centre also said that their coverage was critical towards the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Delhi Police. It raised questions on RSS and Delhi Police's inactivity.

Scrutinising Particular Community?

Barring the telecast of a channel owned by people belonging to a particular community raises questions on the Union government's decision. The media organisations critical to the government and voices against their propaganda are biasedly scrutinised. In the past, media outlets, whether print or digital, that have reported against the government's ideology have been either banned or raided by Income-tax or the Directorate of Enforcement.

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