'Legal fight against ban will continue': MediaOne Editor says as channel goes off air

The Kerala HC on February 8 upheld the Union government’s decision revoking the channel’s license.
Kerala MediaOne TV Editor Pramod Raman
Kerala MediaOne TV Editor Pramod Raman
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Malayalam television channel MediaOne TV has temporarily gone off air after the Kerala High Court on February 8, Tuesday, dismissed the plea filed by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which operates the channel, upholding the decision by the Union government to revoke its license. The channel aired a short news clip by Editor-in-Chief Pramod Raman announcing that telecasting is temporarily being stopped.

"Dear viewers, the HC has rejected the plea filed by MediaOne against the Union government’s decision to revoke the license. The telecasting is temporarily being stopped, respecting the court order. The legal fight against the Union government's decision will continue. We will approach the division bench [of the HC] soon. Hope that justice will prevail. Heartfelt thanks to the support the viewers have given," Pramod Raman said.

The channel, in its plea, had stated that it was not involved in any anti-national activity warranting such a bar on its operations. On Monday, the HC after hearing the arguments, extended the interim order for one more day, reserving its judgment. The Union government, however, contended that a security clearance once issued cannot continue forever.

The HC on Tuesday said that based on inputs from various intelligence agencies, the Union Home Ministry found that security clearance should not be renewed for the channel. The judge said that there were inputs that justified the decision.

The Union government barred the telecast of the channel on January 31, not renewing its license based on an order by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B). The I&B Ministry had cited "security concerns" as the reason behind the order. Many of the investors of the Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited are members of the Jamaat-e-Islami, an organisation that right-wing media groups have been misreporting as banned in India in February 2019. However, as corroborated by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s general secretary, it was the Jamaat-e-Islami, Jammu and Kashmir that was banned after the Pulwama attacks, which is different from the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, members of which are investors in MediaOne.

MediaOne had challenged the Union government's move in the Kerala High Court, within hours of the channel going off-air. The HC had then put the order on hold for two days. The channel got the interim stay on February 2 which was extended till February 7.

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