Six hours after the Information and Broadcasting Ministry issued a 48-hour ban on Asianet News over their coverage of the Delhi riots, the Malayalam news channel is back on air. On Friday, Asianet and MediaOne were barred for 48 hours by the ministry which alleged that their coverage of the recent Delhi riots had been biased, critical of the Delhi police and could have incited violence. While Asianet News came back on air around 1.30 am on Saturday, MediaOne resumed transmission at 9.40 am.
A source in Asianet told TNM that the channel's board made a representation to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Friday night following which the ban was lifted. The nature of this representation is unclear and TNM is waiting for an official statement from the channel.
MediaOne however had not approached the ministry. A source in the channel said that they recieved a message from the ministry around 9.30 am that the transmission is being resumed.
MediaOne TV had issued a response on Friday night stating that they would fight the ban legally.
â€śThis is nothing but an order to stop free and fair journalism. MediaOne will fight against this unprecedented and undemocratic action imposed by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry,â€ť a statement by the channel's editor CL Thomas stated.
Asianet News is owned by Jupiter capital, a financial services company that was established by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar. MediaOne is owned by Madhayamam Publications, a media group that also has members from the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind in Kerala.
The I&B ministry in its orders had not alleged that either of the channels had indulged in fake reporting. Instead, it said that their reporting could have 'enhanced communal disharmony'. While Asianet was blamed of siding with one community, MediaOne was accused of being critical of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Delhi police. Both channels were accused of siding with one community and inciting passions.
Many have questioned how a Malayalam channel could have incited violence in Delhi and how the ministry arrived at such a conclusion.
How on earth can Malayalam channels inflame communal passions in Delhi? Whereas the truly vicious propaganda channels like RĂ©-pubic & TimesCow continue their brazen distortions w/impunity. @asianetnewstv& @MediaOneTVLive are fine independent media. #LiftTheBan now. https://t.co/0eVQBbRKPxâ€” Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) March 6, 2020
Meanwhile, an article on LiveLaw points out the alleged illegallities of the order by the ministry. Read here.
In I&B Ministry had alleged that the channels violated two rules under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.
â€śRule 6(1) (c) provides that no programme should be carried in the cable seruice which Contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes,â€ť the order read.
The second rule is which the channels allegedly violated is Rule 6(1)(e), which states that no programme should be carried in the cable service which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote anti-national attitudes.