Malayalam channel MediaOne taken off air after I&B Ministry refuses to renew license

In a video statement, the media outlet said that it has started legal procedures to challenge the move.
Media One editor Pramod Raman
Media One editor Pramod Raman
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Malayalam channel MediaOne TV went off air on Monday, January 31, after its license was not renewed based on an order by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B). The channel said that the ministry did not renew the channel’s license, citing security concerns. In a video statement, Pramod Raman, the editor of the channel said, “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.”

“MediaOne is taking urgent legal steps for the restoration of the channel, and hope to get back to the viewers as soon as we can. For the time being, we are suspending our telecast, confident that justice will prevail,” he added. The failure to renew a news channel’s licence by the government has come as a surprise to many, and critics have questioned why this was done.

MediaOne is a popular news channel in Kerala, and is well known for their talk shows and journalism. The channel is reportedly owned by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited; many of the investors are members of the Kerala chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami. A source in MediaOne TV told TNM that the Ministry had communicated about 'security reasons' without elaborating and they were asked to respond as to why their license should not be cancelled. While there was some communication that took place, on Monday, the outlet received a notice stating that their license had been cancelled. The channel has been off air since 12.30 pm on Monday, January 31.

The source said, “We don’t even know the reason for the ministry cancelling our license. In our previous communications, they have not mentioned whether it is due to a story, our directors or ownership pattern. Nothing has been revealed to us.”

The notice does not mention whether the license cancellation is a temporary measure or a permanent one, the source added. TNM has also learnt that the outlet has moved the Kerala High Court to secure a stay order.

Pointing out that the guidelines "stipulates that security clearance to the company and its directors is a pre-requisite condition for grant of permission for TV channels," an order by the I&B Ministry said that the company had applied for renewal of permission in May last year as its present clearance was only till September 30, 2021. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs denied the security clearance to Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited for renewal of permission for uplinking and downlinking of MediaOne TV.

In it's order, the ministry said that the company had been issued a show cause notice, to which they replied on January 19, 2022. "In the reply, the company as inter-alia mentioned that they are unaware of the grounds for denial of security clearance and requested not to initiate any further proceedings in the matter...The reply of the company has been examined. The security clearance is based on security parameters of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Since the Ministry of Home Affairs has denied the security clearance. The channel cannot be allowed to operate.

മീഡിയവണിന്റെ സംപ്രേഷണം കേന്ദ്ര സർക്കാർ വീണ്ടും തടഞ്ഞു

— MediaOne TV (@MediaOneTVLive) January 31, 2022

This is the second time that Malayalam news channels have been barred from airing shows for ‘security concerns’. In March 2020, Asianet News and MediaOne TV had been barred for 48 hours by the I&B Ministry for their coverage of the Delhi riots. Both the channels showed a black screen during this period. The order from the Ministry had alleged that Asianet News and MediaOne TV were provocative, could have incited violence, were critical of police, sided with a particular community and showed those who supported the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in poor light. However, Asianet's board made a representation to the Union Ministry following which the ban was lifted within six hours. However, MediaOne TV, which had said that it would fight the ban legally, remained under blackout for a few more hours. 

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