The Centre’s move drew the ire of many, with the opposition Congress party terming the move as “undemocratic”.
“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,” Pramod Raman, the Editor of MediaOne, said in a statement here.
— MediaOne TV (@MediaOneTVLive) 1643623018000
When contacted, I&B ministry officials confirmed that the channel has been banned but did not share any further details.
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 PTI, Rakesh said the ministry’s order was received around 1pm on Monday and by 1.45pm the plea was filed and by 3pm 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.
Therefore, the court listed the matter on Wednesday and till then put on hold the implementation of the order, he added.
Meanwhile, leader of opposition in Kerala assembly, V D Satheesan, slammed the I&B move.
“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.
He said the ban amounts to attack on media freedom.
MediaOne, along with another Malayalam News channel, Asianet, was briefly suspended for 48 hours over their coverage of communal violence in Delhi in 2020, with the official orders then saying they covered the violence in a manner that “highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community”.
“Channel’s reporting on Delhi violence seems to be biased as it is deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CAA supporters,” the ministry order on Media One had said, adding, “it also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS.”